Every month, Kafkadesk brings you the best recipes from Central Europe, straight from the kitchen of our very own Chef Paulina Kotkowska… and she’s back with bang! What’s on the menu today? Her Pierogi ruskie, the Polish delight…
Poles have an insatiable love for pierogi. This popular dish is served very often at home but also in almost every restaurant in Poland. You can even go to a pierogarnia, a dedicated pierogi restaurant!
The origins of pierogi are hard to trace. You can find many variations of them in Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania… They are known as vareniki in Lithuania, varenyky in Ukraine, pirohy in Slovakia, derelye in Hungary and pelmeni in Russia (a smaller version of pierogi). But they are also certainly related to Italian ravioli or Asian dumplings. So hard to say the exact origin… pierogi is an international dish, which comes from all over the world!
In Poland, pierogi can be savoury or sweet. The sweeter versions are usually made in summer with seasonal fruits as strawberries or blueberries, sprinkled with sugar and served with a drizzle of melted butter or some whipped cream.
Pierogi ruskie are the most popular types of Polish dumplings. They are filled with a mixture of mashed potatoes, onion and a dry curd or farmer’s cheese. They are delicious served with some fried onions and/or a spoon of sour cream!
Yields: around 40 pierogi
Preparation time: 1 hour
For the dough:
- 500g all-purpose flour (+ extra for kneading)
- 300ml lukewarm water
- 1 Tbsp soft butter
- 1 tsp salt
For the potato-cheese filling:
- 400g russet potatoes
- 400g dry curd or farmer’s cheese (twaróg, ricotta)
- 1 small yellow or white onion
- 20g butter
- Salt and pepper
- Place the potatoes in a large pan of cold salted water and cook until they are soft (around 20/25 minutes). Drain and leave to dry out completely. Peel potatoes and fork blend them (don’t mash them).
- Chop finely the onion and cook it with the butter until it’s completely soft and slightly caramelized (10 minutes). Leave to cool.
- Add the sautéed onion and the cheese to the mashed potato mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. Leave to cool completely before filling the pierogi.
- To make the dough, put the flour and the salt in a large bowl, add the soft butter and using your fingers begin to mix together. Slowly add the water while kneading, until the dough forms a sticky ball.
- Continue to knead the dough on a floured surface until dough is soft but not sticky. You can add more flour or water if necessary. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Then, cover the dough with a bowl or towel and allow to rest for about an hour (If you’re in a hurry you can use after 30 minutes of rest, but an hour is best.)
- Sprinkle your work surface with flour and when the dough is ready, divide it in half and keep one half covered with a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out.
- Roll the dough thinly and using an inverted glass, cut out circles of dough (around 8cm). Spoon a portion of the filling in the center of each circle and fold it in half. Using your fingers, pinch the edges together to seal. Put the filled pierogi in a baking sheet or a lightly floured surface and cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat with the remaining dough circles and filling and with the other half dough.
- To cook the pierogi, bring a large pan of salted water to boil. Carefully drop the pierogi, you can cook around 8-10 pierogi at a time. The pierogi are cooked when they rise to the surface, usually after 2-3 minutes of cooking.
- Serve the pierogi warm with some caramelized onions and a spoon of sour cream.
The filling can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerate. Filled pierogi can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before cooking. They also can be frozen for up to 6 months. If you want to freeze them, place them flat on a tray so that they don’t stick together and once frozen, you can transfer them to freezer bags. To cook them, simply add the frozen pierogi to a big pan of boiling salted water as below and cook them around 7 to 10 minutes.
The pierogi can be served boiled, as in this recipe, but you can also gently fry the boiled pierogi in a frying pan with a little vegetable oil and butter to add a bit of crunchy. They will pick up a little golden colour !
And as always… Smacznego!
Don’t forget to check out Chef Kotkowska’s other recipes: Chłodnik, the Eastern gazpacho; Liptauer, the Hungarian cheese spread; Bryndzové halušky, the Slovak sheep cheese gnocchi; Lečo, the Czech tomato-based stew; and many more…