Potato and Cheese Pierogies

6:27 AM

My very first experience with pierogies was at a boyfriend's house back when I was in high school. His dad was a chef, and when he presented these dumpling-things, with mashed potatoes inside (like, eww!), I thought he was crazy. When he passed around the grape jelly as the condiment, I immediately started thinking of ways to break it off with the boyfriend to stay clear of the insanity. I don't recall my impression of the jellied pierogies, but they obviously didn't scar me as bad as I anticipated they would.


Fast forward a dozen years or so. Thing One, at the tender age of six, decided she would rebel against the houseful of carnivores and become a vegetarian. Two years later and she's still going strong! Anyways, I was feeling flustered as to what to serve her as a quickie type of meal. We have a limited selection of veggie-fied foods here, so fake nuggets and Boca burgers got old quickly as a quick-fix meal. When I came across pierogies in the frozen section, I immediately got transported back in time to when I first heard of them. Since I still didn't know much about pierogies, or the proper way to prepare them or how to serve them, I just winged it. I sauteed them in olive oil and a dash (or handful) of Tony's seasonings until they were nice and browned, and I was HOOKED! My husband and I make these all the time as a late night snack, and its definitely popular in my house. I finally decided its time to try making them at home.

Google didn't have many recipes to choose from, so I adapted from one I found at Allrecipes.com. I had to scale it way, way back; I should have came up with 20 pierogies, but still ended up with 30 (not that I'm complaining). I also made mashed potatoes with 4 potatoes, but that ended up leaving me twice as much potatoes than needed. The recipe below is my edited version, along with some helpful notes for me (and you) for next time. Quite honestly,
you can fill the inside with just about anything you want. Make your potatoes your favorite way, or using leftovers would be a great timesaver. Also, the original recipe says to boil the pierogies - its not my preferred method, but I included it in the recipe (the picture on the side are the boiled ones, they don't look as appetizing as the sauteed ones). I sauteed the rest of tonight's portion, and I still wasn't happy with the result. The dough ended up being slightly gummy and thick, and I was almost about to scrap this version and search for another recipe. Inspiration quickly hit and I decided to parboil one more really quick and then saute like normal, and that's where I hit the jackpot. The dumpling was nice and crispy (the way I like it) and the potato mixture was a perfect compliment to the crunchy outside. These should freeze very well; just be sure to individually freeze them before storing them, otherwise you will have one big 'ole lump of stuff you'll probably end up tossing.

Potato and Cheese Pierogies
Yields 20-30 pierogies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
pinch salt
water, as needed (roughly 1/3 cup)
3 potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup cheese, shredded
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes; drain.

2. Combine flour, egg and salt. Mix in a little water at a time until dough is somewhat stiff (roughly 1/3 cup). Roll dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a large biscuit cutter (or a cup dipped in flour), make circle cuts.

3. To make filling: Mash potatoes with a potato masher. Add whatever you prefer to prepare mashed potatoes; milk, butter, cream cheese, mayo, etc. Add cheese, salt, pepper and any additional favorite seasonings (or other additional ingredients - roasted garlic, crumbled bacon, etc).

4. If you'd like, roll each dough circle once each direction to further flatten and largen. Fill each dough circle with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the potato mixture, fold over, moisten and seal edges.

To cook:

* Boil: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Carefully drop in one at a time; stirring once. Pierogies are done when they float to the top.
* Bake: Place pierogies on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350˚ for 10-12 minutes (I found this on another site, so please watch your pierogies if you bake them. I'm not sure how accurate this will be with this recipe).
* Saute (My preferred method): Parboil pierogies in boiling water for about 1 minute. Drain and pat pierogies dry. Saute in olive oil or butter, and season as desired, occasionally flipping until crispy and golden brown on both sides.

To freeze, lay pierogies on a cookie sheet to allow to freeze individually. Once frozen, place in a freezer safe container.

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