This is more of a how-to, rather than a recipe. But I would like to share my basic process of creating a dish that has served my family happily for many years. There are so many variations on pierogi… but I find this version to be pretty fool-proof. And, it’s really the only kind I have ever known since I was a wee little thing. (My mother and father were born and raised in West Virginia–tis why I named them “Appalachian Pierogi”) When my mother would make her version of pierogies- the entire family would gather like vultures. In a way, they still do. There are a few steps… but if you get your timing down, they are not at all overwhelming to make. In fact, they are pretty fun!
And, for all of you gluten free folks- try this gluten free pierogi recipe I created : (updated)
What you will need:
What I like to do first is begin the process of making the mashed potatoes… then I can start on the dough while the potatoes are cooking.
First, fill a large pot halfway full with water and set on high heat. Salt the water and let come to a boil. In the meantime, peel the potatoes and chop them into equal sections, like so:
Once water has come to a rolling boil, carefully add potatoes. Keep water on high heat and wait for water to come back to a full boil. Once this has occurred, reduce heat slightly and set timer for 13 minutes. Keep your eye on the potatoes, and stir every once in a while.
Now, get started on your dough.
In large mixing bowl, mix 5 cups of flour with 2 3/4 cups cold water. Add about 1 tsp salt. Knead until the dough looks like this:
I have found that if you have a dough hook on your mixer, it works exceptionally well for this step, as this dough is tough to handle. But kneading by hand will offer quite a good work-out if you don’t. An electric mixer is not necessary at all… as I just figured out after many, many years of making these that “Hey, I can just use my mixer for this step!”
Live and learn.
Also, as a side note- your kitchen will most likely get pretty hot from all the potato steam and you working your butt off on this dough. I recommend opening a window or two if it is cooler out, or turning on a fan. It will make your experience much more pleasant.
Okay, now that your dough is at the right consistency… divide into two balls. Roll each out slightly… just enough to make your arms NOT want to fall off (about a 14″ circle). Like I said this dough is stubborn as hell and you will work to get these pierogies.
Good news is, if you roll out dough just a little and let it rest… It will become much easier the second time you roll it out. I like to drape mine on top of a separate mixing bowl like pictured below. You can easily layer both rolled out disks on top of each other, just make sure the dough is fairly dry and lightly dusted with flour. You do not want them to stick together!!
And, hopefully by now your timer has sounded and your potatoes are finished cooking. They should fall apart easily when prodded with a fork. Drain potatoes in colander… and let them sit in your sink for a minute or two to let all the steam escape. Now, place potatoes into large mixing bowl and mix with about 3 tbsp Earth Balance and salt to taste. I seriously whip the living daylights out of mine until they are nice and fluffy. (This is just my method of making mashed potatoes… feel free to sub your favorite mashed potato recipe here)
Once mashed potatoes are finished… set aside to let cool. I like to throw mine in the freezer while I do the next step. Very hot mashed potatoes are no fun to handle when making these.
Take chopped onion and a little Earth Balance, and in a frying pan over medium high heat, cook onion until translucent- to caramelized. Once fully cooked, add onions to mashed potatoes, stirring well.
Now, return to that dough.
On floured surface, take one disk of dough and roll out again until fairly large, but not too thin. You want the dough to be at least 1/8 of an inch thick… preferably thicker. If the dough is too thin it can easily break in the boiling process and you will be left with a soggy mess. :( Also, make sure that you can easily flip the dough onto its other side without sticking. I recommend doing this a couple times to coat the dough with flour to prevent your perfectly made pierogi from sticking to the counter and becoming a waste.
Okay, so, you have your dough all rolled out… take a pizza cutter or sharp knife and cut dough into squares/rectangles.
Drop a lump of mashed potatoes into the center.
Fold over one side of dough.
Crimp the remaining edges and make sure you seal tightly.. you don’t want any water getting in there at all.
As you finish each pierogi, transfer to DRY, lightly floured surface away from any heat. Cookie sheets work well, and you will most likely need two.
Repeat until all dough is used up.
Finally, bring about 1/3 of a pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop about 3-4 pierogies at a time into the boiling water. Using a slotted flat spoon, gently stir the pierogies so they do not fall straight to the bottom of the pot and stick. You will only need to do this once. Set timer for 4 minutes… pierogies will float when done. Using same slotted spoon, move onto lightly greased pan or cookie sheet and repeat until all pierogies are cooked. If you want to layer them on top of each other, I recommend brushing the tops of them with olive oil– that way you can save space, and they will not stick together.
This all takes some time, but like I said, they are well worth it. Once they are boiled, they will look like this:
Some people love to then go on and fry them in a little oil or margarine.. and then top with vegan sour cream etc. I really just like mine plainly boiled, with a sprinkle of pepper, and sauerkraut on the side. Soooo good.
Once you get the hang of these, start experimenting with fillings…you can fill them with almost anything- even a sweet filling!
They are such versatile little dumplings. :)