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.
This was an interesting challenge. I had never heard of pierogi before and the concept was new to me. But after doing a lot of reading up on the subject and reading of various recipes, I came to the conclusion that pierogi are almost like a type of filled pasta, reminiscent of ravioli or any other filled pasta. The dough is essentially the same ingredients, and they are filled and boiled in a very filled-pasta like way.
Part of the challenge was an option to make a filling that included our local/native ingredients. I currently live in Manchester, England but I am not originally from Manchester, or from the UK at all, and although there is a lot of local food that I enjoy, I could not think of a filling that would be considered ‘Manchesterian’ (not a real word I know but this is my blog and I am allowed to make words up). I am South African and had I been home I am sure that I could have concocted a biltong/boerewors/bobotie filled pierogi, but not being home I don’t exactly have any good local ingredients to hand. So, in the interest of trying original pierogi i thought I’d try Anula’s family recipe for the Russian style pierogi.
The process of making the pierogi was fun. I love cooking that is an experience, a project, and this was certainly that. The dough was a good kneading effort, and a lot of muscle power went into the rolling out. If I had to make them again I would make use of my dear pasta machine to save my arms the fight with the dough and the what felt like hours of rolling out.
Then the cutting out and filling and cooking was fairly straightforward and although I couldn’t stop myself from adding ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’ to the filling as I am prone to do, I tried to stick to the recipe.
The end result was fairly successful, and quite enjoyable with my roast lamb and salad on the side, but I think I would do a few things differently if I made them again. The pasta machine for one, to get thinner, smaller parcels. And fill the parcels a bit more as my filling seemed to shrink while the pasta grew in the cooking process, leaving the end result a bit out of proportion. But it was certainly a learning experience, and one that I hope to build on in future experiments.
Russian style pierogi (makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings)
2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water
3 big potatoes, cooked & mashed (1 1/2 cup instant or leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
1 cup (225 g) cottage cheese, drained
1 onion, diced & sauteed in butter until clear
3 slices of streaky bacon, diced and fried till crispy (you can add more bacon if you like or omit that part completely if you’re vegetarian)
1 egg yolk (from medium egg)
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, melted
1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper to taste