I tried a couple recipes in the 1990s trying to recreate the delicious perogies we had in bar mlecznys or milk bars in Poland. This recipe via a Pittsburgh Post Gazette food blog seems close (with minor adaptations). Author Casey Barber recommends using a kitchen scale to measure dry ingredients by weight; too much flour in the dough makes for tough, chewy pierogies.
Basic Pierogi Dough
2 large eggs, divided
1/2 c sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
3 T unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 t salt
2 c (8½ ounces) unbleached flour
1 T water
Whisk egg, sour cream or yogurt, butter and salt in bowl. Add flour to large bowl. Gently stir wet ingredients into flour. The dough will initially be very dry and shaggy, seeming as if it will never come together, but have no fear: Keep stirring and it will pull itself into shape.
Once dough starts to come together, press and smash it against the sides of bowl with your palms, picking up dough bits and essentially kneading it within bowl until it forms a ball.
Tip dough and any remaining shaggy flakes out onto a clean work surface. Knead until smooth, about 1 minutes. Cover dough with bowl and let rest 15 minutes.
Whisk remaining egg and water in small bowl for egg wash.
Potato and Cheddar Pierogies
Just like your babcia used to make. Be sure not to use too much flour when rolling out the dough, or the pierogies will be chewy and leaden (but probably still delicious). Boil then pan-fried the dumplings in butter. Yum.
1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 medium or 2 small), cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 c finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 to 2 T heavy cream or whole milk
2 T butter
1 large yellow onion halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into strips along the grain
1/4 c (or more) chicken or beef broth
Sauerkraut and sour cream for serving, optional
Place potatoes in medium saucepan. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt. Cover and bring to boil over medium heat. Uncover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and bring back to pan. Place over low heat and stir for about 30 seconds to remove excess moisture. Run potatoes through a ricer or food mill fitted with fine disk into bowl. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, cheese and 1 tablespoon cream; consistency should be firm enough to roll into a ball. If filling is too dry, stir in additional 1 tablespoon cream.
For onions: Melt butter in medium skillet over low heat. Stir in onion and cook until starting to soften, about 10 minutes. Add ¼ cup broth and bring to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and deeply browned, about 1½ to 2 hours. If onions start to burn before they’re fully caramelized, add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional broth as needed.
To make pierogies: Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper.
Divide rested dough into 4 equal pieces with a bench scraper or knife. Set aside 3 dough pieces and cover with mixing bowl. Roll remaining dough as thinly as possible into a rough 8-by-12-inch rectangle.
Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 6 rounds of dough. Resist the temptation to re-roll dough scraps for additional rounds. It seems wasteful but dough won’t be as tender the second time around. Makes 24 pierogies.
Spoon filling into center of dough rounds.
Using your finger, swipe a scant amount of egg wash — just a light touch — around the dough edge.
Fold into a half-moon shape: Either fold dough over the filling on work surface — I call this “the blanket” — or gently cup the pierogi in our hand in a U shape — I call this “the taco.”
Gently but firmly seal pierogi by pinching and squeezing edges together with your thumb and pointer finger. Start with 1 pinch at the top, then move to the “corner” of the pierogi and pinch along the edge back to the top. Repeat on opposite side to finish sealing pierogi.
Transfer to baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough rounds and filling.
To cook, pierogies can either be boiled (2 to 3 minutes for fresh, 4 to 5 minutes for frozen), pan-fried in oil or butter (2 minutes per side), or deep-fried in at least 2 inches of 350-degree vegetable oil (3 minutes for fresh and 5 minutes for frozen).
Deep-fry, boil and/or pan fry pierogies as directed. Serve immediately with onions, sauerkraut and/or sour cream.
“Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” by Casey barber (Gibbs Smith, July 2015, $19.99)