Ukrainian Pierogi Recipe–Looking East Before Heading West

I’m heading off to the States today but before leaving I wanted to share the Ukranian pierogi recipe I mentioned in my last post.

What makes the Ukrainian pierogi different from the Chinese dumpling, the Italian ravioli, or the Japanese gyoza? A question that certainly deserves deeper investigation, but in my meagre two-hour internet research, I found similarities and differences that amounted to much grey area, leading me to believe they have more in common than not.

Other names for the eastern European product include pirogi, pirohy, pyrohy, varenyky, derelye, and coltunasi. They’re all very similar–some of the doughs have oil rather than butter or neither at all, some have eggs while some don’t. Like the dumpling, ravioli, and gyoza–pierogi are flour based doughs prepared with a variety of fillings. And the country of origin? It’s unclear. Could be Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, or Russia, and they could each possibly lay claim to their own original version.

The recipe I’m sharing today is from a Ukranian friend. After he served them at a dinner party, I was determined to make them myself. No surprise, there was a massive difference between his and the store bought ones I had had back in the States from the grocery store freezer section. He agreed to teach me and kindly gave a one on one cooking class. Now they’re a family favourite.

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For the school visit, the pierogies were filled with pumpkin, various alliums, and cheese. For this post (I needed additional photographs) I used mushroom, onion, and two types of cheese for half the batch and mashed potato, garlic chive, and cheddar cheese for the other half. They don’t need cheese, I’m just very addicted to it. Sauerkraut and onion is my most favourite filling ever but I’ve made them with oodles of different combinations. Most meats and shellfish would work well also. They’re delicious with a sweet filling like chocolate or fruit, or fruit and cheese. The possibilities are only limited by imagination; anything goes.

Pierogi Dough (makes about 3 dozen)

  • 500g flour sifted with a pinch of salt
  • 300 ml very warm water
  • 100 g butter

Melt butter into water then add it to the combined flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Knead for five minutes before letting rest for 1/2 of an hour in the same bowl, cloth covered.

Prepare the filling of your choice.

Divide dough into thirds then roll out one section at a time on a floured surface to 1/8″. Using a 2½” round cutter, create as many circles as possible out of the rolled out dough.

Fill a medium-large pot halfway with water and begin to heat to a boil while finishing the pierogies.

To shape the pierogies, place a teaspoon of filling into the centre of the dough circle before adding a tad bit of extra cheese if desired. Wet the edge all the way around the circle and fold in half, enveloping the filling while pinching the edges together to seal the filling inside.

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1. a teaspoon of filling, 2. add extra cheese,  3. wet edge & fold in half, 4. seal edges together

Make sure the edges are sealed well and drop the uncooked pierogies into the boiling water a few at a time. When they begin to float to the surface of the water, give them another minute then carefully remove them with a slotted spoon to a buttered plate, about four minutes cooking time in total. Keep them warm while cooking the remainder of the pierogies.

They can be eaten after boiling or can be pan fried in butter for a couple of minutes until golden and crispy on the outside. Pierogies freeze nicely before or after boiling by laying them on a lined cookie sheet in a single layer until frozen solid; I prefer freezing them before boiling, immediately after filling and sealing. When frozen solid, remove from cookie sheet and store them in an airtight bag or container in the freezer. They can be cooked from frozen or thawed first; both cook up just fine. I usually cook them from frozen as it’s often a matter of time.

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Potato pierogi and cream atop pumpkin soup

I’m delighted to cross pierogi recipe off my list of things to do before I fly. I’m not sure how near or far I’ll be to a computer while in America so I may be out of touch until my return at mid-month.

Until then, eat well to stay well! Melissa Xx

p.s. As requested, here is the filling used at the school tour…

Combine together the following ingredients:

  • 275 g steamed pumpkin, roughly chopped
  • 250 g ricotta cheese
  • 200g grated shredded cheddar cheese
  • 50g grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • handful chives,minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or squeezed through a garlic press

 

12 Comments

  1. Eddy Winko says:

    Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia and even parts of Russia were all one and the same not too far back in history so no wonder the origin is debated. Often described as a peasant food as you would use the ingredients you have available, back in the day when everyone had a cow, chickens and a patch of land. So flour, eggs and water, although Gosia mum, who now makes a 1000 at a time for our freezer, uses oil as she says it makes the pastry smoother and easier to work with. The two most common fillings are ‘Ruskia’ which if you are Russian you would call ‘Polskia’ 🙂 is a mix of cottage cheese, mashed potatoes, fried onions fried in butter, salt and pepper. Or ‘Cabusta’ which is a mix or sauerkraut mushroom and bacon. Al things that you would have without going to the shop. And when its bilberry season and you come back with a few kilos from the forest you can guarantee that some will be made into a desert pierogi.
    Yours look fantastic by the way 🙂
    Have a great time away, safe trip.

    Like

  2. Oh I do admit to having eaten a few from the freezer section of the market..
    These look delicious and your commentary and directions makes them sound very doable for me.

    I do hope your visit to the States was a happy one, and having already read your return post, I know your travels were safe ones. All my best, JoHanna 🎄

    Like

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