Last weekend I was back in Boston, and my mom took a day off from work so we could spend it together. I don’t get nearly as much Mom time now that I live 3000 miles away, so it was a rare treat. I lodged a special request that we spend part of the day making pierogi. Pierogi (a potato-filled dumpling of Polish origin), didn’t play any prominent role in my childhood, but my mom has fond memories of her Aunt Katie making them. We’ve been slowly collecting several generations worth of family recipes and dishes, and I really can’t think of a better place to start than a dumpling stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese and topped with melted butter.
Unfortunately, it seems that Aunt Katie’s recipe for pierogi only lived in her head, so we perused the internet for different potential recipes. I used my standard search “pierogi recipe blog” and turned up surprisingly few promising hits. I always like to look for recipes on blogs first because you can usually stumble upon a step by step tutorial, a key to success in trying a recipe for the first time. As we searched and searched, every recipe seemed to incorporate sour cream into the dough, something my mom was certain hadn’t been part of Aunt Katie’s recipe. We ended up using a sour cream free version very similar to this recipe.
The dough was tricky, and just not quite right. We mixed it up, kneaded it, let it rest, and then rolled it out. It was hard to get it rolled out thin enough, but eventually we got into a good groove, with my mom cutting circles out with a biscuit cutter, and me filling them with a tiny amount of magical filling and sealing the edges together with an egg wash. A side note on the filling: my mom mashed some potatoes together with enough Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar (my favorite!) to satisfy an angry army of mice. When I heated up some extra filling for a snack later, the cheese actually separated out to form its own ooey gooey crust. A filling that good barely needs a dumpling surrounding it.
Once the pierogi were filled, and safely tamped together both with egg wash and fork tines, we boiled them in small batches until they floated. Then you simply melt an obscene amount of butter in a pan, sauté some onions until golden, and then cook the pierogi in the butter for about 90 seconds on each side.
Truly, they weren’t quite perfect. The dough was still a little tough, so the recipe needs some work. I guess I’ll just have to commit myself to some more quality time with mashed potatoes and some extra sharp cheddar. It’s a tough job, but I guess someone has to do it.
Even though the pierogi weren’t perfect, it was still a wonderful day with my mom. I’m rarely around for her epic Christmas cookie baking month anymore, so it’s nice to have some calm kitchen time. Plus this project restarted my DIY kitchen impulses, the same impulses that led to homemade naan, cheese, and butter all making appearances in the kitchen this week.