Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Adventures in Pierogi Making

I'm one quarter polish. My mother's maiden name was Kowalewski. As I was growing up, we never did much to celebrate that heritage, although there are tales of my great grandmother's duck blood soup. I remember eating saurkraut once at my grandparent's house. My grandfather went on a trip to Poland when I was growing up and I heard stories about that.

Luke is a notoriously picky eater, so imagine my surprise when, two years ago, he declared my friend Tracy's homemade pierogis one of his favorite foods ever. Perhaps it was his Polish genes claiming the most stereotypically Polish food. Finally, two years later, I decided to try making pierogi myself. I was scheduled to make potato gnocci for dinner to go along with Craig's scallops over the weekend, but I had a surplus of cauliflower sitting around, and figured I could get away with hiding it inside pierogi. The kids were up at 6 am on Saturday morning, so I needed something to fill the hours, and figured pierogi making would fit the bill. As I began mixing up the dough, I had visions of becoming a piergi maker extraordinaire, honoring my Polish heritage, making pierogi for holidays and, eventually, my grandchildren.

Two hours later I decided I was in over my head and woke Craig up to care for the kids. Let's just say that it was a bit of work, and it wasn't happening with Luke and Henry wrestling on the ground beside me while Silas tugged on my leg and cried. I used this recipe for the dough. I used the vegetable oil in the dough as opposed to melted butter since Silas is allergic to dairy. For the filling I sauteed one chopped onion and two cloves of garlic in a good bit of earth balance (I would use butter if it weren't for Silas) and threw in a couple of cups of cooked cauliflower at the end. I seasoned heavily with salt and pepper, and once it was good and soft I threw it all in the food processor. I microwaved three good sized russet potatoes and, once they were cool, I peeled and chunked them. I threw them into the food processor and pulsed just until it was all smooth. This can get gummy if you overprocess.

I thought they turned out really good, and my family liked them quite a bit. I don't think this will be a weekly recipe or anything, but I might try to make these three or four times a year.


AKmamaOf6 said...

I tried clicking on this yesterday...glad you re-posted!

I can't believe you never had sauerkraut at your home! Not that we did, but my hubby loves it and so does my bro-in-law, so my sis and I make it religiously now.

These look great! I have never delved into foods where I have to wrap many individual things. I've made a few spring rolls and egg rolls, but I prefer casseroles where you dump it all into a 9x13 and you’re done.

I guess the kids would have fun with this though. How do you cook them, are they boiled?

Ser said...

Wrapping is a pain, A, I agree. The problem with the pierogi was figuring out what size to make them. First I was making them too small and then too large. They were a bit hard to seal, too. Yes, you boil them until they float, dab with butter, and keep warm in a pan until serving.

Anonymous said...

Mara, how do you make kefer? And Kombucha (or whatever it's called)---when I made the sauerkraut it said you could use the juice almost like a starter for other fermented things. I wonder if you could use it for Kombucha? I still have my homemade sauerkraut in the laundry room on the shelf. I am afraid to eat it or serve it to anyone! :) What do you think?

so yung wilson said...

I'm not surprised that a picky eater would like pierogi. Potato and dough ... what could be more comforting?

Have you tried a ricer? I know - it's one more tool in the kitchen, but honestly, it's the best for making light and airy potatoes (I bet cauliflower too). The boys would probably love using it as well. It goes surprisingly fast too, I think (just make sure the potatoes are well done).

I think the key to making individual food items is to 1) try to break the process down into parts over days (filling one day, dough making and filling another, fry/bake/boil the next) and 2) do them in big batches and freeze extras at the appropriate step if that's an option. What a feeling of satisfaction pulling out those extra spanikopitas, empanaditas, or butternut squash dumplings a few weeks down the road from the freezer! Almost makes the near tears and late nights worth the effort. (Or maybe in your situation, the early mornings but keep the near tears?)

so yung wilson said...

Oh - make a flour and water glue to help the dough to stick.

Kyoung-Min said...

Never heard of pierogi until now. Thanks for enriching my vocabulary. I'm also curious about the taste, because I'm a bit of a foodie :)

Turns out Joonha is also allergic to dairy just like Jinha (I think Jinha has almost outgrown his allergies, though). When Jinha was severely allergic to milk, however, he was okay with butter. A friend of mine told me that butter is the only dairy product that does not induce allergic reactions. I forgot why. I'm curious how Joonha or Silas would react to butter, hmm...

Ser said...

So Yung, I was more surprised that Luke tried a new food that someone else made without being prompted/forced by me! Also, thanks for all the great tips--especially the flour/water "glue" tip. I'll try that for sure.

Kyoung-Min, that is so interesting. I have actually let Silas have a bit of butter in a cookie now and then, and not really seen any reaction, so perhaps that is the case? It is so fun to hear from you!

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