Pierogi

At Christmas in my Polish family, we always have pierogi for Christmas Eve dinner. We do two fillings – a sauerkraut filling and a cheese filling, and this year we even added a third filling – potato. Although the pierogi can be served on their own, at my family’s house, we usually have it with Polish sausage or ham.

Since it’s the Christmas season, I decided to finally try to make the pierogi at home before we visit family. I learned the recipe & technique from my mom a couple of years ago, and while we were working on the pierogi, we came up with a few new ideas about how to make the process a little easier. My mom found out that my cousin has been using her food processor to make the dough – which makes it *SO* much easier to make the dough. We also realized that we can get more uniform dough rounds if we 1) weigh the dough (so that all balls are the same weight) and 2) if we use the pasta roller to make them the same thickness.

This process a bit labor-intensive, but it can be broken up and done over a few days. The recipe below makes enough filling (of each type) for 24 pierogi. So, you can make one type, or you can make a double or triple batch of dough (in order to make 24 of each). Or, if you want to make some of each, you can make a full recipe of dough and a third  of each filling (to make 8 cheese, 8 sauerkraut, and 8 potato). There are only two of us in our household, so there are only so many pierogi we can eat! 🙂 Or, if you are cooking for a crowd, obviously you can make as many as you need! They do freeze well!

Pierogi - plated

Pierogi
Adapted from Mom’s recipe
Makes 24 pierogi (one recipe of dough and one type of filling)

Ingredients:
Dough (makes enough for 24):
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup skim milk
1 1/2 beaten eggs (beat 3 eggs and divide in half – save remaining amount for another use)
4 oz lowfat sour cream

Sauerkraut filling (enough for 24):
2 small cans (or 1 large can) sauerkraut
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sugar (start with 1 Tbsp, then taste – can add up to 2 Tbsp)
salt & pepper

Cheese filling (enough for 24):
2 lb soft farmer’s cheese (I use Friendship Dairy or Lifetime brand)
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp sugar
salt & pepper

Potato filling – recipe adapted from Jennifer Wozniak Cashman (enough for 24):
1 1/2 large russet potatoes (or 3 small potatoes) – about 1 lb
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 oz firm farmer’s cheese, grated (can sub firm queso fresco, if you can’t find farmer’s cheese)

For frying (each batch):
2 Tbsp butter – used a little bit at a time

Directions:
For sauerkraut filling:
Drain sauerkraut and place into medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover, and then heat over medium high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain liquid and let sauerkraut cool.
Pierogi - sauerkraut cooking

Meanwhile, sauté one small onion with butter over medium heat until browned and soft. Set aside.
Pierogi - onions sauteeing

Once sauerkraut and onion are cool, mix together and stir in sugar (start with 1 Tbsp, add to taste – up to 2 Tbsp). Add salt & pepper to taste.
Pierogi - sauerkraut filling

For cheese filling:
Mix cheese, egg yolk, sugar, salt, & pepper.
Pierogi - cheese filling

For potato filling:
Peel potatoes, slice. Place in a pot of salted water. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes (or until tender). Drain water, and mash with butter using a potato masher. Stir in salt, pepper, and grated farmer’s cheese. Let cool.

For dough:
Add sifted flour, butter, milk, eggs, and sour cream to a food processor. Pulse until mixture turns into a dough. Dough will be very sticky!
Pierogi - making dough Pierogi - dough ready to mix Pierogi dough - after mixing

Remove dough from food processor – place on floured board, and divide into three balls. Divide each ball into 24 small balls (about 1 oz each, roughly the size of golf balls).
Pierogi dough - balls

Flatten each dough ball. Using a pasta machine, flatten the dough (starting with level 1, keep passing it through until level 4) until dough round is about 5 inches in diameter. Alternatively, roll with rolling pin until the dough round is even and about 5 inches in diameter. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
Pierogi dough - ready to roll Pierogi - feeding through pasta roller

Making the pierogi:
Add a spoonful (about 1.5 to 2 Tbsp) of filling to each dough round (on one end). Fold dough over, forming a half moon, and press to seal. Using a fork, press the tines into the edges to crimp. Repeat with remaining dough rounds & filling.
Pierogi - kraut filled Pierogi - cheese filled Pierogi - sealed 2

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a few pierogi at a time (usually no more than 6-8), and cook for about 6-7 minutes. Place on a cooling rack to drain. Repeat with remaining pierogi.
Pierogi - boiling Pierogi - draining

Just before serving, melt remaining butter (a little at a time) in a large skillet. Add pierogi to the pan – just a few at a time – and cook until both sides are browned. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, and serve hot.
Pierogi - cooking in skillet Pierogi - cooked

Nutritional info (sauerkraut pierogi – each):
Calories: 160.1
Total Fat: 3.7 g
Saturated Fat: 2.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.9 g
Cholesterol: 21.1 mg
Sodium: 160.5 mg
Potassium: 30.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 25.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Sugars: 2.1 g
Protein: 4.5 g

Nutritional info (cheese pierogi – each):
Calories: 166.1
Total Fat: 7.3 g
Saturated Fat: 4.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.0 g
Cholesterol: 49.7 mg
Sodium: 199.6 mg
Potassium: 12.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 12.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.5 g
Sugars: 1.5 g
Protein: 9.9 g

Nutritional info (potato pierogi – each):
Calories: 118.9
Total Fat: 4.6 g
Saturated Fat: 2.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.9 g
Cholesterol: 23.6 mg
Sodium: 99.9 mg
Potassium: 86.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 14.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.0 g
Sugars: 1.3 g
Protein: 4.2 g

**Make ahead** Dough can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. Each filling can also be made ahead and refrigerated.

In addition, after boiling and draining, un-fried pierogi can be frozen until use (up to 6 months). Just thaw and add to skillet.

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