A couple weeks ago, I came across this recipe for pierogi on Pinterest (isn’t that one of the greatest sources ever?), and I knew I had to try them. Since I was born (and partially raised) in Philly, I’m very familiar with pierogi and they always remind me of family get-togethers, but this was the first time I made them.
Although, they look very much like empanadas, pierogi are a Polish potato dumpling, made with unleavened dough and can be filled with a variety of ingredients mixed with potatoes. I chose to make mine with lamb, potatoes and cheese, and I absolutely loved them. They’re great to eat as a snack or with a side salad to create a meal. Trust me, these are quite filling.
Here is my adaptation of Neo-Homesteading’s recipe:
2 cups all purpose flour (unbleached)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
“In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Mix together melted butter, egg and sour cream. Create a small well in the middle of the flour and stir the butter mixture into it using your fingers or a spoon. Either in the bowl or on a work surface knead the dough until its smooth and thoroughly combined (about 5-7 minutes). The butter in this dough makes it somewhat sticky but it will smooth out once kneaded. Refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight.” (I didn’t alter anything with how I made the dough and this is how it’s made in the original recipe)
Note: I highly recommend making two batches of dough, because I ended up with a lot more filling than dough. With one batch of dough, I was able to make about 2 dozen pierogi.
1 lb potatoes peeled and boiled until soft
1 lb ground lamb
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, roughly chopped
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 – 1 1/2- 2 tsps salt (to taste)
1 tsp pepper
3/4 – 1 cup shredded cheddar or any other cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
Combine the cooked potatoes, sour cream salt and pepper. Using a potato masher or fork smash the filling thoroughly. Let sit and cool.
Heat a skillet or pan on medium heat. Saute onions until softened, add the pepper and garlic. Cook until slightly softened. Set aside. Cook lamb in the same pan, breaking the meat up into little pieces with a spatula. Once the meat is no longer pink, drain the juices and add onions and peppers. Remove from heat and allow to cool to at least room temperature.
Add lamb mixture to the potatoes; mix in cheese. Refrigerate filling until cooled or over night. Do not attempt to assemble pierogi with hot filling. You can also decide to make the dough and filling beforehand.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s about 1/8″ thick. Using the lid of a mason jar, cut circles into the dough. Roll out each circle a little bit more in each direction before filling.
Place about 1-2 tbsp of filling in the center of the dough circle. Wet the edge of half of the dough circle with your finger. Fold the dough over the filling, making sure to squeeze the filling so it completely fills out the pierogi. Press the edges together to seal them. You can crimp the edges with your fingers or use the end of a fork or spoon to create a little design.
Tip: Place a little smear of the dipping sauce (see below) on the dough before you add the filling. This adds another wonderful layer of flavor to the pierogi.
If you choose to freeze some of your pierogi (and believe me you will unless you’re feeding a lot of people), make sure to freeze them individually on a cookie sheet before placing them in a container. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a big mass of pierogi.
Cooking the pierogi:
Pierogi are always boiled before any further preparation. Place about three pierogi at a time in rapidly boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they start to float.
Neo-Homesteading mentioned that they like to saute the pierogi in butter and that is exactly what I did (another option is baking them). I now can’t imagine eating them any other way. Melt 1 – 2 tbsp butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Place the pierogi in the pan and saute until browned, about 2 – 3 minutes on each side. Serve hot.
I made a sour cream and chive dipping sauce to go with the pierogi.
1/4 cup sour cream
1 – 2 cloves minced garlic
4 – 5 chive stalks, finely chopped (if you don’t have chives, you can also use dried oregano)
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and let chill in the fridge for about 15 – 20 minutes before serving with the pierogi. This will allow for the flavors to really combine.