Perfect Circles Don't Matter
In our second book (working title: Savor Every Moment), pierogi play a supporting role. Mitch, our hero, mentions to Kara, our heroine, that his mother makes her own pierogi from a recipe she learned from her grandmother and mother. Later, when Kara is in her restaurant kitchen, she finds herself making pierogi.
Pierogi is relevant because historically, the population of Lawrenceville was primarily made up of Polish and Irish immigrants. I too have Polish and Irish heritage. This might be yet one more reason I'm so drawn to Lawrenceville. See the Why Lawrenceville post for a tidbit on my family's roots in Lawrenceville.
Growing up, we ate store-bought pierogi. My mother made potato pancakes and borscht (beet soup) with pork chops and sour cream, which made the broth a bright pink and soaked into the meat.
The first time I made pierogi, about two years ago, I had little to go on besides a friend's simple family recipe. I was clueless about how thick to roll the dough and didn't know that putting the filled dough into boiling water would break them apart.
In early August 2017, my employer held a multicultural fair. Felicia and I volunteered to host a table representing Poland. My dad and daughter came to help. Felicia brought sauerkraut and kielbasa and I made potato and cheese pierogi from scratch. The recipe I used is on the Recipes page.
I made the filling first so it had time to cool before I used it to fill the dough. To make the filling, I peeled, boiled, and mashed five pounds of potatoes. My friend's recipe called for farm cheese, which I couldn't find in the grocery store. Rumor has it, I can get it in the Strip. Next time, I'll go and get it there. Instead I used goat cheese, which gave the finished pierogi a pleasant bite to it.
Because I expected to feed a lot of people (my workplace has more than 2,000 employees), I made two batches of dough. The first dough I made with sour cream. The second batch I made with plain yogurt because I intended to make a dessert pierogi and I didn't want it to taste too tart. Of the two doughs, I much prefer the one with the yogurt; it seemed smoother and easier to roll. I divided the dough into fours and chilled them in the refrigerator for two hours.
Important things to remember when making pierogi:
Dough thickness matters; perfect circles don't.
Get the water boiling and then reduce the heat. Don't put the pierogi into hard boiling water. The agitation breaks them apart.
When the water starts to cool, dump it for clean water (the flour left on the dough from rolling it makes the water cloudy after a while).
What's your favorite pierogi filling? Do you eat your potato pancakes with sour cream or apple sauce? And do you fry your pierogi or boil them before eating?