|Pierogies, after a quick fry in some butter|
I can't help but think of my Babcia every time I make pierogies. The way she shuffled her feet on the linoleum floor of her apartment, her thick Polish accent and tough as nails attitude and fierce pride. Babcia (affectionately called "Bobbie") was a heck of a lady. You knew not cross her but you also knew how much she loved you and how proud she was. Unfortunately I was only 9 when she died but the story goes that towards the end, when things got bad, my Dad went to visit her in the hospital and as stood next her bed, he head bowed and murmured a prayer. She must have sensed someone was in the room because she opened her eyes, looked him square in the face and yelled in her thick Polish accent, "David! What are you doing?! Don't worry, if I die, I tell you!" Then she dismissed him, ordering that he return to work.
I always wish that I got to know her as an adult. I'm sure she would have shaken her head in disagreement when I didn't bring "a nice Polish man" to dinner and she would have questioned what the heck I was wearing (let's face it, the early nineties were bad years for us all). But I also like to think we would have sat down at the table in her kitchen and over coffee, talked about her childhood in Poland. She would have wanted me to know all about it. Even as a kid, I remember her constantly telling me that "I'm a good Polish girl" (or was it reminding me to "be a good Polish girl"?) We would have talked for hours and then I would have had to drop her off at Bingo. Bobbie loved that Bingo.
As I write this post I can't help but laugh a little and smile at the memory of her. Although she passed away years ago and I never got to have that chat with her, I have food to connect me to her and I still think of her every time I make any sort of Polish food. Now if that isn't a great legacy, I don't know what is.
This recipe isn't her original, I adapted it and changed it a little (I'm sure she would have had a thing or two to say about that) but all the basics are still there. The beautiful thing about pierogies is that, like ravioli, you can fill them with almost anything you can think of. Traditional Polish stuffings (at least the kind that Bobbie made) were always potato and cheese, cabbage, mushroom and onion and two types of sweet pierogies, blueberry and apple. (The blueberry ones were always my favorite). I ended up stuffing mine with cheddar-truffle potatoes. I'm sure she would have had something to say about that too. But I also think she would have tried one and even though there's no way she'd admit it, I think she would have liked it.
Check out the recipe and more pictures after the jump and be sure to click back tomorrow, I'm going to show you Bobbie's trick with what to do with leftover pierogie dough...
|I like to add the eggs one at a time..easier to incorporate!|
For the dough:
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 cup water, to seal the pierogies
For the filling:
- 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 TBS butter
- Splash of chicken broth or stock, milk or cream
- 1-2 tsp Black Truffle Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Start by making the potato filling by baking the potatoes in a 400 degree oven until you can insert and remove a knife or fork with no resistance. Once the potatoes are done and have cooled a bit, but are still hot, peel them and run them through a ricer or just mash them by hand. Melt the butter and cheese into the hot butter. The potatoes should be smooth and creamy but a little on the thick side. Salt and pepper to taste and then add the truffle oil. Cover and chill.
To make the dough, start by dumping the flour onto a counter or other work surface and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the center of the well and add the salt, oil and nutmeg. Using a fork or your fingers, gently stir the eggs and gradually combine it with the flour until you start to form a dough. You're looking for the dough to be well combined, somewhat heavy for it's size and just a little bit tacky. Add a little water to the dough if it's still a little dry. Add a splash of water if they are too thick. Add a little more flour if it's too wet.
Chill the dough for a bit, just so that it's easier to handle, and then roll out 1/4 of the dough onto a floured surface into a thin layer. This is the tough part because the dough is going to fight you on this. Take charge here and keep at it until you've got a nice, even layer of dough. Using a large biscuit cutter or a coffee mug (that's how Bobbie did it) cut out circles. Using a rolling pin, roll out those circles even more so that the dough is thin but still has a good amount of strength to it. Remove potatoes from the fridge and pinch together about 2 TBS of potatoes into a half-moon shape. Place the potatoes on half of the pierogis. Using your fingers, wet the perimeter of the dough, fold over the non-potatoed side of the pierogie and pinch all sides tightly. Repeat this process until the potatoes are gone. Reserve any remaining dough (I'll show you why tomorrow!).
To cook, boil a large pot of salted water. Carefully dunk a couple of pierogies into the boiling water. Do this in small batches (no more than 5-6 at a time) so that they will cook evenly and not stick together. Cook them until they float, carefully strain them and set them on a plate to dry. For an extra step or to reheat them, you can fry them up in a little butter so that there exteriors get a subtle little crunch to them.