I bring to you the pierogi. Pierogi are basically a Slavic version of dumplings, and they are delicious. They are traditionally made with some kind of potato filling, but they can be stuffed with anything your heart desires, including something sweet, like fruit! My great-grandfather was from Poland, and my grandfather (my father’s father) has plenty of stories about the situations he got himself into while trying to learn to live in a new country. One of my all time favorite stories is about the class pet that my grandfather had when he was a boy living in New Jersey. It was the 1930s, and my grandfather was chosen to take the class pet, a rabbit, home for the summer. It was quite a lot of responsibility, but my grandfather was up for the task, so he went home from school that last day before summer, rabbit in tow. All of the kids from his class were constantly coming to his house to see the rabbit – they wanted to play with him or bring him food from their own gardens, like carrots, lettuce, and celery. One day, though, my grandfather went home to feed the rabbit and it was missing from its cage! My grandfather looked all around, and finally went into the kitchen, where dinner was already being prepared. He turned to his father, but he already knew what had happened. His father had skinned the rabbit and given it to my great-grandmother to cook for dinner! My grandfather was upset, but to be honest, he was less upset about the death of the rabbit than he was about having to break the devastating news to his bunny-loving classmates. For the rest of the summer, children continued to come by his house, but he would just make up some excuse as to why they couldn’t see the rabbit. He couldn’t, however, make an excuse as to why he couldn’t accept their gifts of carrots and lettuce to feed their class pet, so he kept taking their vegetables, which I am sure his mother also put to good use. While I have never actually made pierogi before this, I’m in love with them now, and they help me to touch base with my Polish roots!
First, start by dicing up your potatoes for your filling. Get a pot of water boiling, add them in, and cook for 20 minutes or so, over medium-high heat, until tender.
In another pan, get your bacon cooking over medium-high heat in a little olive oil.
Cook the bacon for 8-10 minutes, until crisp. Remove the cooked bacon from the pan with a slotted utensil and place on paper towels to dry.
Mince your shallots and garlic, and slice your chives.
Add your shallots to the pan with the bacon fat, and cook for 5-8 minutes, over medium heat, until translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant.
Drain the potatoes from the water, add the cream cheese and the Parmesan cheese, and mash to your preferred texture (although be sure to mash them enough that they can fit inside the pierogi. Stir in the bacon, chives, shallots, and garlic.
Now, unwrap your pierogi dough and roll it out on a floured surface to about ¼ inch thick. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter or a glass.
Add about a teaspoon of filling to the dumpling.
Fold it up and press the edges together.
Press the edges together with a fork, to ensure that they do not come apart. Set aside until you have finished making all of your pierogi.
Get a pot of water boiling, then drop the pierogi in, in batches so you don’t overcrowd them, and cook for 3-5 minutes, until they start popping to the surface of the water.
Be sure to melt (or brown) some butter to drizzle over the top of the finished pierogi.
Serve with a little butter over the top and sprinkled with a few extra chives. Some Philadelphia Cream Cheese or sour cream on the side doesn’t hurt, either!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ½ cup water, room temperature
- 5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 8 slices of thick bacon, diced
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
- 1-2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced (for garnish)
- Sour cream (for dipping)
- Whisk together the salt and the flour. Add it to a food processor, if you have it, and add in the egg and water, pulsing until just combined. If you don’t have a food processor, this can easily be done by hand, just be careful not to overwork the dough or else it will be dry. When the dough is mixed together, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
- When the dough has been chilled, lightly flour your work surface. Unwrap half of the dough and roll it out with a floured rolling pin to about ⅛ inch thick (you want these to be nice, thin envelopes for your tasty filling). Use a glass or a cookie cutter to cut out circles, and place the circles on another floured surface. Keep going until you have used up all of your dough.
- While the dough chills, you can make your filling. First, get a pot of water boiling and add in the peeled and cubed potatoes. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Drain the water from the potatoes, place in a bowl, add in the cream cheese, Parmesan, salt, and pepper, and mash until mostly smooth, either with a mixer or by hand. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- In a skillet, add in the olive oil and heat over medium-high. Add in the diced bacon and cook until crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate to dry and drain all but 1 tablespoon of grease from the skillet.
- Add in the sliced scallions and cook over medium heat until caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant. Remove the shallots and garlic from the pan with a slotted spoon and dispose of the grease (or save it to use another time).
- Add the cooked bacon, shallots, garlic, and minced chives to the mashed potato mixture and mix together until well combined.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add in 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Place about a tablespoon or so of filling inside each cut-out circle of dough, and then press the edges together to close up the pierogi.
- Drop the pierogi in batches (do not over-crowd them) into the water and cook for 3-7 minutes, until they float to the top. Drain, toss with the 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter, garnish with the extra minced chives, and serve with some sour cream to dip them in.