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Pierogies

When I was a kid, pierogies were something that we always made for a special occasion-at least the homemade kind. We usually made them for Christmas Eve.  I remember it always being such a project with perhaps a little bit of yelling involved. But now I don't think they are such a project (hey I make my own cheese right?). They are well worth the work. I can usually knock them out in less than an hour, as long as the mashed potatoes are cool.

Potato/Cheese Pierogi

For the dough:

2 c flour
1 egg
2 T sour cream
1 T butter
1/4 t salt
approx 1/2 c water
1/2 c cold mashed potatoes

Potato/Cheese Filling:

1 T grated onion (or shallot)
2 T butter
2 c cold mashed potato
1 c cottage cheese
salt/pepper

Mix the ingredients for the filling and set aside.

Mix the dough ingredients and knead - do not knead too much or dough will become tough.  Divide dough in half. Cover and set aside 1/2 of dough.  Roll dough thin on a floured surface.  Cut into 2" circles using a round cookie cutter or a 2" glass dipped in flour.  Place a small spoonful of filling on dough circle.  Pick up dough circle (the one with the filling) and cover with another dough circle.  Gently seal edges with fingertips.  Crimp edges with a fork dipped in flour.  Place on floured cloth and cover.  Roll out remainder of dough.  Gather scraps and roll out one more time (If you roll scraps more than once, dough will be tough). I ended up with extra filling.
Half the dough-the other half is hiding under the towel

2" circles
Don't add too much filling

Crimp the edges

Boil in salted water about 5 minutes or until pierogies float.  Drain and place in bowl.  Coat with butter to prevent sticking.

They are also good fried up.  You boil them first and then saute them in a skillet with a little butter. You can even saute a chopped onion with them.  Serve with sour cream.

I thought those were really the only two ways that you could make them.  Hey but what do I know? I didn't think I looked Polish until I went to a Polish Festival and saw all these people around that looked like me. No wonder why when I go to the Polish store the lady starts to talk Polish to me.  I happened upon this recipe in Cooking Light.  I have made this recipe using mushrooms too (see variation).

Baked Pierogi (adapted from Cooking Light)

1 lb pierogi (preferably fresh) (1/2 the above pierogi recipe)
2 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
2 clove garlic, minced
1/3 c cream cheese
1/2 c chicken stock
1/2 c shredded cheese (cheddar, Fontina, Mozzarella, Gruyere)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
salt/pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Butter or spray a casserole dish. Place pierogies in dish. Saute bacon (if using) in a skillet until crisp. Remove and set aside. Add garlic and saute until aromatic.  Add cream cheese and stir until it starts to melt. Slowly whisk in chicken stock. Heat through until sauce is smooth. Pour over pierogies.  Sprinkle tomatoes and cheese over pierogies. Bake for 20 minutes until bubbly.

Variation:  Instead of tomatoes use 8oz of cremini mushrooms, sliced. After cooking bacon, saute mushrooms until they start to give off liquid.  Toss in garlic and saute until aromatic. Add salt/pepper. You can also add some thyme or sage.  Add 1/2 c white wine and cook until almost all the wine is evaporated.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add cream cheese and continue with recipe to make the sauce. Gruyere cheese goes nicely with the mushrooms.

Instead of bacon, I've also used cubed smoked ham. Or I've just left the bacon out. This is such a great weeknight quick meal (I don't mean if you make the homemade pierogi). Since I had some extra cream cheese lying around, I did a double batch. We stopped in for lunch at Big Stash's in Linden NJ this week, and I have to say I think mine were better. And Big Stash makes a pretty mean pierogi!

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