Oooh... such a wonderful creation. I look forward to enjoying these tasty little pockets of goodness every Christmas. It was one of the many traditional Polish foods my family would prepare. Noonie, my grandmother, would make hundreds of pierogi every year before the holidays. It would be a team effort between her and my grandfather (known to us grandkids as Bampy). She would expertly assemble the pierogi, and it was Bampy's job to boil them. They've passed on, but we still carry on the tradition... but they don't seem to taste quite as good as Noonie's did.

Previous generations passed down the pierogi recipe from memory. Thankfully, my sister had the foresight to copy down the family recipe:



The only way to describe this dish is as the core of our family's holiday celebrations. I know I will always keep the fond memories of my childhood when I "helped" with the production of these complex dumplings. Even though, I probably spent more time eating the potato filling than I did actually helping.

Potato Filling

10 lrg potatoes
1 lb farmer's cheese (we also make ones with Colby cheese for a bit different flavor)
1 onion, chopped
1/4 lb butter
salt and pepper

Saute the onion in the butter. Peel the potatoes and boil until tender. Mash the potatoes by hand. Stir the onion into the potatoes. Add enough salt and pepper to taste. Mash the cheese in by hand. Do not use an electric mixer because the mixture will turn out creamy. Cool the mixture before stuffing the pierogies.

Cabbage Filling

1 lrg head of cabbage
1 onion, chopped
1/4 lb of butter
salt and pepper

Remove the core from the cabbage. Place the cabbage in water until just covered. Cook the cabbage until almost tender. Drain the cabbage and squeeze with your hands until all of the water is removed from the cabbage. Put the cabbage though a food grinder. In a large pan saute the onion in the butter until brown. Add the cabbage to the onion and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes. Cool the mixture before stuffing the pierogies.

Dough

4 cups flour
4 eggs
1 pt sour cream
1 tsp salt

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Drop the eggs in the center of the well and cut the eggs into the flour with a fork. Add the sour cream and salt to the mixture. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until firm. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough in half and roll out one portion very thin, about a eighth of an inch thick. Cut the dough into 3 inch circles. Stretch the circle of dough gently and place a small amount of potato or cabbage filling the center of the dough. Fold the dough circle in half and pinch the ends closed. Repeat the process with the remaining pieces of dough.

If you have any dough remaining they can be cut into kluski noodles. Drop about a dozen completed pierogi into a large pan of salted boiling water, stirring the occasionally, until they rise to the top, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain.

Just before serving, saute the pierogies and kluski in butter and oil until browned on both sides.

A Polish delicacy, pierogi are basically stuffed, half-moon shaped pasta shells. They can be boiled, pan fried, deep fried, or baked. Since its one of the foods that I personally grew up on, I'll share a recipie.

The Shell

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg

Sift the flour and baking powder.
Add to this the egg and enough water to make a soft dough.
Knead the dough on a floured surface for about five minutes.
Let the dough stand for 10-20 minutes.
Using a rolling pin and knife, make up some thin two inch squares with the dough.
Place a teaspoon of filling in center and fold over.
Pinch edges together with fingers.

Fillings
While you can probably fill a pierogi with anything you want, in my area there were a few fillings that were popular.

Potato: Mash four cooked potatoes. Add two ounces sharp cheese and salt to taste.

Cabbage: Chop up one large cabbage, and one medium onion into small pieces. In a pan add 1/2 teaspoon salt and two tablespoons of shortening. Saute onion in shortening then add the cabbage. Fry until browned.

Cheese: Mix 1/2 lb. dry cottage cheese with one beaten egg.

My family makes pierogi every Christmas as one of the traditional courses of the Wigilia dinner on Christmas Eve. The filling that my aunt always uses is sauerkraut and mushroom (my favorite), so I’ll add it here as an additional filling option for the recipes above.

1 and a half lbs. sauerkraut
2 large onions
2 lbs. mushrooms

Boil the sauerkraut for 30 minutes in a little water, letting the water evaporate. Mince the sauerkraut and sauté one onion until it is golden brown, then mix the kraut with the onion. Slice the mushrooms and cook them with 2-3 spoons of water, until the water evaporates. Chop the second onion and sauté like the first, add the mushrooms to this and season the mixture with salt and pepper before mincing and then mixing with the sauerkraut.

Boiling the sauerkraut takes away some of it's sourness, resulting in a nice mild flavor, made rich and earthy by the addition of the onion and mushrooms. The butter that the dumplings are fried in right before serving is also very important.

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