As the temperatures plummet, hearty, warm and traditional meals take over. Since the holiday season brings not only American traditional recipes to our tables this time of year, but dishes from around the world, I thought I would share a few recipes from my family that have made it into the hall of fame with a “Traditional Family Recipes” series. These recipes are near and dear to many of us in my extended family, and I’m so excited to share the series of recipes with you, my readers. Perhaps one of these recipes will make it into your family traditions!
Some of my fondest memories of comfort food revolves around when I would visit Nanny, who was my great-grandmother. She was 100% Polish, so there was always plenty of hearty, warm food around. When I think of her, I remember the huge volcano of mashed potatoes with TONS of butter, creamy beef stroganoff, and pierogis. All of these recipes contain one magical ingredient: SOUR CREAM. The addition of the sour cream makes these recipes feel like a big cozy hug! (It’s no wonder I craved pierogi so much while I was newly pregnant – you will shortly read why!)
I have feeling you really want to know what pierogis are. As my Italian husband said, they are like gnocchi and ravioli put together. I would contend that they are just pierogi, but if you were to compare them to other dumplings, that is a pretty accurate description. While I studied in Russia, I ate A LOT of vareniki, which is a Ukrainian and Russian dumpling that I think is much closer to the Italian counterparts – but I digress.
Pierogi are dumplings traditionally filled with mashed potatoes, cheeses, and caramelized onions. Many times they are served with sour cream. In my family, they MUST be fried after they are boiled, so the outside is golden brown and crispy. Some people don’t fry them, but I find the pierogi are just less magical that way. Other traditional fillings include cooked ground sausage in addition to the ingredients mentioned above. Anything else, and I don’t consider it a traditional pierogi.
There are TONS of recipes out there to make these dumplings from scratch. Please be advised, that making them does take some time, but I like to freeze half of the pierogi from this recipe before I boil them, and I have found they keep for up to 3 months. One batch of pierogi will definitely be too much to eat for one family, unless you have guests. If you freeze them ahead of time, when you have anyone over you can quickly boil and fry them and you will have a homemade appetizer in minutes! It should also be stated that pierogi can be the main dish, or a side dish. Since ours are fried, I try to minimize the damage by keeping them a side dish at our meals. Key word – TRY. 🙂
Below is the current recipe that I like to use for making pierogi, which is adapted from a recipe I got from Jenny Jones’ blog. She also has a great YouTube video on how to assemble these dumplings, which can be a bit difficult for first timers. To see her recipe and video, click here.
Smacznego! (Bon appetit in Polish.)
- 1 1/2 pounds potatoes (2 large russets)
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup water
- Place peeled, quartered potatoes in a pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender.
- Meantime, brown onions in butter on med-low for about 10-15 minutes.
3. Drain and mash the potatoes, adding onion, sour cream, salt & pepper. Set aside to cool.
- Combine flour & salt in a bowl. Make a well and add sour cream, egg & water, combining with a spoon.
- Place on a well-floured board and knead for 50 turns (using a scraper if needed) until smooth. Cover with a towel or inverted bowl & let rest at least 10 minutes.
- Divide dough into thirds. Keeping extra dough covered, roll each section 1/8” thick, adding flour as needed. Cut 3-inch circles, saving leftover scraps of dough.
4. Fill each circle with about one tablespoon of potatoes, fold into a half circle, and pinch edges tightly, then crimp the edges with a fork. Set aside on surface sprinkled with flour. (NOTE: If planning on freezing the piegrois, place them into a gallon sized freezer bag at this point. Be sure they are still dusted lightly with flour so they won’t stick when you place them in the bag together.)
5. Place pierogis in boiling salted water, stirring at first to keep them separated, and cook until they rise to the top, then another 30 seconds to a minute.
6. Place 2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil into a large saute pan. Heat on medium until sizzling. Add pierogis to the pan CAREFULLY, and cook on each side till they are golden brown.