The Pierogi Project.

Pierogi are small polish filled dumplings that are perfect for freezing for later use.

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The Dough.

3 c flour

1 1/4 cup water (divided)

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tbl vegetable or olive oil

In a large bowl, mix the flour and the salt together.  All purpose flour is best, but in a pinch you can mix half bread flour and half pastry flour.  Bring one cup of the water to a boil, and stir into the flour.  I used a mixer for this, but make sure it’s got the power to handle a thick dough or you could damage the motor.  Once you’ve got the water mixed in as best you can, cover with plastic wrap or a cotton kitchen towel and let sit for five minutes.

Mix in the 1/4 cup of cold water.  We’re going for a sort of a soft, sticky dough, but since it’s a cooked dough it won’t feel the same as bread dough does.  Allow the dough to rest covered for fifteen minutes.

Add the two tablespoons of oil and mix until a soft, homogenous dough is a achieved.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for thirty to sixty minutes.

The Fillings.

I used two fillings, but there are dozens of things that you can put in pierogi.

Potato.

2 lbs of russet potatoes

2 c of grated cheddar cheese

1 c of sauerkraut, drained and chopped

2 tbl sour cream

salt and pepper to taste

Boil or bake the russet potatoes, and once cool enough, peel the skins off by hand.  They should come off very easily.  Mash the potatoes, and add the sour cream, cheddar cheese, sauerkraut, and salt and pepper.  The ingredients will incorporate easily if the potatoes are still warm.  Cover and refrigerate until cooled.

Mushroom.

1 tbl vegetable oil or lard

2 1/2 lbs button or crimini mushrooms, washed and diced

1 onion, peeled and diced

2-3 tbl fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp dried thyme

1/3 – 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, or more if needed to attain desired consistency

Heat the oil in a frying pan, and cook the onions until soft.  Add the diced mushrooms and the herbs and cook until the mushrooms are tender.  There will be a good amount of liquid in the pan, so add breadcrumbs until the mixture is no longer watery.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Put in the refrigerator until cool.

Putting it Together.

Roll the dough.  I work with half the batch at a time, because when it’s rolled nice and thin it takes up a good amount of counter space.  You want to get it to around 1/10th to 1/16th of an inch… pierogi dough should be so thin that you can see through it when you hold it up to the light.  It is best to roll from the center out to the edge to avoid overworking the dough and making it too difficult to roll.  If your dough does tighten up to the point that you can’t roll it further, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it to rest for thirty to sixty minutes… that will cause it to loosen up a bit.

Cut circles out of the dough… they should be three to four inches in diameter.  I used a biscuit cutter first, but switched to a water glass because the circle was slightly larger.  Once you’ve cut as many circles as you can from your sheet of dough, pull up the scraps an wrap them in plastic.  After a rest they can be re-rolled, but the dough will get tougher every time you roll it out.

Fill each circle with your filling of choice.  I find that the best pierogi I made seemed like they had too much filling at first, but the dough will stretch to accommodate your filling.  Fold the dough together and pinch closed, starting at the top and working your way around the dumpling.  Be careful not to tear the dough and to make sure a seal is achieved all the way around… any stuffing or oil on the edges of the dough can prevent a seal.  Make sure there are no air pockets in the dumpling, as these will cause the dumplings to burst when cooked.

Cook the dumplings in batches by dropping them into a pot of boiling water.  Stir right away to make sure that they don’t stick together or stick to the bottom of your pot.  If you’re going to serve them right away, cook the dumplings until they float, usually around three minutes.  They can then be served, or you can brown them in a frying pan with melted butter or oil.  Serve with sour cream or melted butter.

If you’re going to freeze them for later, cook for only about a minute, and then like up on an oiled baking sheet and put in the freezer overnight.  Once they’re frozen solid, take them off the sheet and store in snap top plastic containers or in zip top freezer bags.

Once frozen, they can be put straight into boiling water, no thawing necessary.  Boil for three to five minutes, until they float and are warm through.

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