Appalachian Pierogi

pierogie

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)

Pierogi or Pierogies

What you will need:

For Filling:

  • 5 lb bag of Potatoes- I use Yukon Gold
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine, and a little extra for cooking the onion
  • salt to taste

For Dough:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 3/4 cups cold water
  • salt to taste

Etc:

  • big pot for boiling water
  • mixing bowl for making mashed potatoes
  • pan for sauteing onion
  • colander for draining potatoes
  • adequate counter space for rolling out dough and assembling pierogies

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:

potatoes

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:

pierogie dough

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.

pierogie dough

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!!

pierogie dough rest

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.

mashed potatoes

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.

pierogie

Fold over one side of dough.

pierogie

Crimp the remaining edges and make sure you seal tightly.. you don’t want any water getting in there at all.

pierogie

pierogie

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:

pierogie

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. :)

pierogie

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18 Responses to Appalachian Pierogi

  1. Nina says:

    Great recipe! I grew up in Russia eating these quite often.
    There is one BUT… that confuses me every time I check Eastern European recipes. What’s up with the names? Unless there is a different classification in Poland, former Yugoslavia etc, these “pierogi” are called “vareniki”
    So here how it goes in Russia:
    “Pierog” – plural “pierogi” (baked in the oven, size of the cooking sheet pie, stuffed with savory or sweet filling)
    “Pierozhok” – small, individual size baked (yeast dough) or fried (baking soda dough) pie, stuffed with anything that can be stuffed inside
    “Varenik” – boiled dumpling, that can be later fried. Most commonly stuffed with potatoes, cottage cheese or sour cherries. We have a tradition of hiding a russian penny in one of those, while making them. The person who gets the one with the penny will have a lucky year ( or an extra visit to dentist) :)
    “Pel’meni” – boiled dumpling stuffed with meat
    “Manti” – big, cooked over steam dumpling, stuffed with lamb meat. This dish comes from former USSR republic of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
    Cheers

  2. lvleph says:

    What is so Appalachian about these?

    • allyson says:

      hi lvelph, as I explain in the headnotes of this recipe, it’s because this recipe is adapted from my family recipe… and they’re from the Appalachian region.

  3. MsWorld says:

    Pierogies are delicious- but clearly developed from poor peasants with little else to put into a meal! I like to add black beans to my pierogies to add some protein, and sometimes I go wild and use sweet potatoes. My polish boyfriend even approves (although he does still prefer the original!)

    As to the initial comment- the tradition is to just serve with butter and salt, or sour cream.

  4. Mariannes says:

    This is awesome. Do they freeze well?

    • allyson says:

      Yeah, actually they do :) I just thaw them in the oven at about 350 degrees until they are warmed up and ready to eat… works great!

  5. [...] your heart desires. I used this recipe for oniony mashed potatoes from my non-gluten free pierogi [...]

  6. I was raised on the potato perogies as well, but now I make mine filled with more exotic fillings like mushroom duxelles or artichokes and black olives. PURE comfort food! vegancomfort.blogspot.com

  7. Sophie says:

    Yum, is all I can say.

    These were much easier to make than I thought they’d be, I had to mess with the recipe a little (my dough was a little soggy so I had to add more flour, I only had wholewheat left, it made it a little more dense but it was tasty nonetheless), mine also seem to be a little bigger than yours, but I still got a great yield. I can’t wait to share these with my friends.

    Thanks for the tasty recipe!

  8. Kristan Henry says:

    My 14 year old son and I were just talking about making pierogi since we just had some icky frozen ones from the store and we thought home made would be much better and as here is the perfect recipe! I’ll post back once I’ve made them.

    • allyson says:

      Kristan-Awesome! I really hope you enjoy them…I think they are tons better than the boxed kind! Best of luck to you in your pierogi endeavor! ;)

  9. Your blog is really so wonderful, thank you so much. I love the step by step pictures and the beautiful, clear instructions. Really amazing. Perogies are one of my favorite things, although I’ve always got to fry mine up at the end! I have my own recipe but I always like to try new things so your is the next up!

  10. Rose says:

    This look wonderful. I love the idea of eating them with sauerkraut. Thanks for sharing your family recipe; I’m definitely putting them on my list to try.

  11. VeganTIckles says:

    I’ve never tried pierogies. What do you serve with them?

    • allyson says:

      Hi!
      We like to eat them as a main course… with a little sauerkraut and a some nice greens on the side…or whatever side-dish we happen to be craving. Think of them kind of like a portable noodle casserole- you can fill them with mushrooms, different veggies, seiten, really whatever you can conjure up! I always make the basic potato and onion kind, and as leftovers we will eat them cold, straight from the fridge. My parents always served them fried up (after boiling) with a big blob of sour cream on top.. but it is all up to personal preference. I really enjoy them just as is. At family gatherings, we seriously will make a huge batch and eat them in a big heap with nothing else…until they are all gone and we cannot stuff ourselves anymore. :)

    • Elise Leung says:

      Serve with bacon- fry pierogies in the bacon grease, and serve with sour cream and or apple sauce. yum! Now my vegan daughter is yelling at me- she likes hers with apple sauce only.

  12. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kala Hotakainen, Allyson Kramer. Allyson Kramer said: One of my favorite things to make– Pierogies!! : http://tinyurl.com/y89qc7d #vegan [...]