Saturday, August 14, 2010

Daring Cooks August 2010: The World of Pierogi

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

I must say, when I first read about this challenge I was amazingly excited! The Hubble is the sponsor of a Polish student in his current Captain's Career Course. The Polish student and I have had several conversations about pierogi when he would come over for dinner.

I tried for weeks to convince him to ask his mother for a pierogi recipe for me. But he keeps forgetting. So I was more than thrilled to find out that I would be making them from scratch for The Daring Cooks challenge!

Living in Upstate New York for 5 years also gave me an appreciation for not only the large Polish community they have up there, but also the large Irish community. So I chose to do a Polish meets Irish type of pierogi by creating a shepherd's pie pierogi. LOL!

Now let me tell you, this is a very loose translation and I have taken many liberties in this Irish inspired pierogi.

Before we head to the recipe I would like to say thank you to Liz and Anula for such an awesome challenge. I really loved it and it turned out delicious! I plan on making more pierogi in the future.

And to my readers, don't forget to go check out how the other Daring Cooks did on this challenge.

And I'm happy to say that I was able to take pictures of the process this time so I can share with you! Let us now enter the world of pierogi with a down home Irish flair.

Ingredients: For pierogi: flour, salt, egg. For filling: ground turkey, seasoned salt, potatoes, green beans, shredded cheese and gravy (for topping the pierogi at the finish).

Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil.

Peel and rinse your potatoes.

Then chop them into chunks...

And dump them into the pot of boiling water. Boil until very tender when poked with a fork (about 20 to 30 minutes).

While the potatoes are cooking you can brown your meat. Toss the meat into a heated skillet...

Separate the ground meat a bit and sprinkle with seasoned salt (because that's one of the best seasonings ever!).

And cook until brown. See that grease at the top left?? You want to drain that stuff out of the meat. Set this aside.

When the potatoes are done cooking, drain them them throw them back in the pot in which they were cooked.

Take a masher or hand held electric mixer and smush them all up.

Add in some milk (just eye it, you are looking for a creamy mashed potato consistency and everyone has different ideas about the perfect mashed potato consistency).

Add a little milk at a time, then mix it up some more until they are somewhat smooth.

Now add in some butter (again the amount is up to you).

And sprinkle in some salt and pepper.

Keep repeating this process adding more milk, butter, salt and or pepper while tasting and mixing until the potatoes are the desired smoothness and taste.

Now dump your green beans onto a cutting board.

And chop them up.

Then dump them into a large mixing bowl.

Now go ahead and dump in your browned meat.

And your mashed potatoes...

And mix it all up.

Now add the cheese.

And mix that in too. Now place that mixture in the fridge while we prepare the pierogi dough.

Start by dumping 2 cups of your flour into a shallow bowl or onto a work surface.

Create a well at the center of the flour pile.

Crack open an egg into that well.

Top the egg with the salt.

Now add about half of the water and gently work the ingredients together and knead until you have a soft dough. You may have to add more of the remaining water and flour as you go along to get the right texture. Now cover the dough with a towel and let rest about 20 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface and use a cookie cutter or the top of a glass to cut out even circles (I used a 4 inch round cookie cutter so the pierogi would be a good size).

Once you have your circles, place about a teaspoon or so of the filling in the center of each circle...

Fold the dough so the filing is in the center and pinch the edges all together (if the dough is too dry to stick, use a smidgen of water to seal it).

Then use a fork to crimp together first one side of the dough, then flip the pierogi over and crimp the bottom side as well.

Now pause for just a moment to say hello to your little sous chef and tell her dinner is not quite done yet.

In a shallow pot, bring some water to a boil.

Toss in a few pierogi (not too many because you don't want to crowd them. One layer is enough) return to boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Allow the pierogi to heat until they float to the top then cook another five minutes.

When finished cooking, remove from the water with a slotted spoon...

And place on a separate plate. Now go back and repeat the process with the remaining pierogi. Cook until all batches are finished.

At this point you can either choose to freeze the pierogi or pan sear in a bit of butter.

But because mine were shepherd's pie pierogi I topped mine with a bit of gravy.

And we all chowed down to a delicious dinner. Even Little Butt ate it and wanted more. So good!!!

Shepherd's Pie Pierogi
Adapted from The Daring Kitchen


For Pierogi:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • About 1 cup lukewarm water
For Filling:
I found that this made twice as much filling as I needed for my pierogi so unless you are making two recipes of dough I would suggest cutting this part of the recipe in half.
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 5 or 6 large potatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can green beans
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • Seasoned salt
  • Gravy
  1. Start by making the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Peel, rinse, and cut potatoes and place in water until tender; about 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Place ground turkey in heated skillet, sprinkle with seasoned salt, cook until thoroughly brown; drain excess grease.
  3. Drain cooked potatoes; place back in empty pot. Mash potatoes adding milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste until reaching desired consistency.
  4. Drain green beans; chop.
  5. Place green beans, cooked meat and mashed potatoes into large mixing bowl; mix until well combined.
  6. Add cheese to meat and vegetable mixture; mix well to combine.
  7. Place mixture in refrigerator while creating pierogi dough.
  8. Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. 
  9. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time. 
  10. Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. 
  11. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You’re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.
  12. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8”) cut with a 2-inch round or glass (personally I used 4-inch cutter as it makes nice size pierogi - this way I got around 30 of them and 1 full, heaped teaspoon of filling is perfect for that size). 
  13. Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. 
  14. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Crimp edges of both sides of pierogi with fork.
  15. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. 
  16. Repeat with remaining dough.
  17. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. 
  18. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.
  19. Serve immediately preferably with gravy or fry. Cold pierogi can be fried.  Boiled Russian pierogi can be easily frozen and boiled taken out straight from the freezer.
  20. Enjoy!
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