Pierogi Ruskie: Potato-Cheese dumplings
Pierogi ruskie are among the most popular types of Polish dumplings. Contrary to what most people believe, that does not translate to "Russian pierogi." It actually means Ruthenian or Rusyn pierogi and is a traditional Polish dish.
Ruthenians or Rusyns, are also known as Carpatho-Rusyns, represented by the peoples around the northern Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine, eastern Slovakia, and southern Poland. This area also is known as Galicia in English (Galicja in Polish, Halic in Slovak and Halchyna in Ukrainian).
For best results, don't mash the potatoes. Instead, use a fork, food mill, or ricer. If you can't find dry curd cheese, you might want to make your own farmer's cheese from scratch. Drained ricotta will work in a pinch. Serve with toppings like caramelized onions, sour cream, and crispy pieces of fried bacon.
For the Potato-Cheese Filling:
2 pounds russet potatoes
1 tablespoon salt
8 ounces dry curd or farmer's cheese, room temperature; or ricotta
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons onion, finely minced
salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Dough:
2 to 2 1/2 cups flour
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water, lukewarm
Optional: Caramelized onions
Optional: Skwarki (pork cracklings) or fried bacon pieces
Optional: Sour cream
1) Gather the ingredients.
2) Cook the potatoes.
3) While the potatoes are parboiling, place the tablespoon of butter in a small pan and sauté over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
4) Peel the cooked potatoes and fork blend or rice them in a large bowl.
5) Add the farmer's cheese and sautéed onion and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Make the Dough
1) Gather the ingredients.
2) Make the dough by placing 2 cups of flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center.
3) Break the egg into it, then add the 1 teaspoon salt and lukewarm water a little at a time.
4) Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary to form a smooth dough ball.
5)Divide the dough in half and cover it with a bowl or towel. Let it rest 20 minutes.
Form and Cook the Pierogi
1) Assemble the pierogi on a floured work surface. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch and cut with a 2-inch round or glass.
2) Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons of the filling into the middle of each circle.
3) Fold the dough in half and pinch the edges together.
4) Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining half of dough.
5) Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour and place the filled pierogi on it in a single layer. Cover with a tea towel.
6) Cook the pierogi by bringing a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in about 6 to 10 pierogi at a time, depending on the size of your pot. Make sure not to overcrowd. Return to the boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more.
7) Remove one with a slotted spoon and taste for doneness. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi with a slotted spoon to a buttered serving platter so the dumplings don't stick.
8) Serve warm with caramelized onions or skwarki or chopped fried bacon, and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.
Pierogi are commonly served either boiled or pan-friend. One isn't better than the other, it's simply a matter of personal preference. Boiled pierogi are softer, more like ravioli, while pan-fried have a crispy exterior, similar to pan-fried dumplings.
For pan-fried pierogi, boil them first. Let them drain and dry a bit while you heat up a large skillet. Add plenty of butter or a thin layer of oil to the pan. Once hot, add several pierogi and fry until crisp.