Get your fill with homemade pierogies

I am often intrigued by traditional foods that I didn?t get to experience during my childhood.

My first taste of pierogies, for example, was during a meal with my parents-in-law, and I was immediately interested in how to make the delicious little dumplings.

According to the website ?Tasting Poland,? pierogies are traditional to the country, but our Americanized way of saying ?pierogies? is actually wrong since the word ?pierogi? is already plural in Polish, since nobody eats just one.

If you?re looking for traditional filling, that apparently also changes depending on the cook and his or her family background, but potatoes and sauerkraut are popular options.

The recipe I tried comes from ?Barefeet in the Kitchen? by Mary Younkin. You can see her recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com/2014/02/how-to-make-pierogies-recipe.html?m=1. I removed some ingredients and added some to make these more to my tastes. I figured that if the Polish can?t decide what goes into pierogies, then I didn?t have to follow any of the rules if I didn?t feel like it.

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Homemade Pierogies

Filling ingredients

4 medium-size potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 small onion, minced

2 ounces Monterrey jack cheese

2 ounces ricotta cheese

2 teaspoons garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Filling directions

Put the peeled potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender.

Drain the potatoes and mash them.

Add the garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Put the mashed potatoes in the refrigerator (you?ll want to get them nice and cold).

While the potatoes boil, saute the onion in olive oil until translucent.

Add the onion to the mashed potatoes along with the cheese.

Keep the filling in the fridge until you?re ready to use it.

Dough ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for kneading

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

3/4 cup very hot water

Dough directions

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the egg.

Stir to combine, and then slowly incorporate the hot water.

Once it begins to come together, mix the dough with your hands until it?s sticky and well-combined. (If it?s too sticky, add a little more flour.)

Chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour.

To make the pierogies, prepare to fill them, boil them and fry them. The process will go quicker if you do these in batches.

Prep an area with flour to roll out the dough. It will be a bit sticky, so don?t be afraid to use plenty of flour on your counter, rolling pin and hands.

Begin by kneading the dough a few times, then take about a fourth of the dough and roll it out to about 1/8-inch in thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut out circles (mine were about two inches in diameter).

Put about a teaspoon of the potato mixture into each circle and pinch the dough shut so it forms a half-circle shape.

Put the finished pierogies on a buttered plate, and do not stack them.

For the boiling step, fill a stock pot with water and keep it boiling. Carefully drop the pierogies into the boiling water and cook them until they float to the top. Remove them and transfer them to another buttered plate, again not stacking them.

For the frying step, melt some butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the pierogies in a single layer and cook until browned on both sides.

Transfer the finished pierogies to a buttered baking dish.

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These reheat beautifully. I also put some in the freezer to see how they would do, and they defrost well, too. And, if you have leftover filling, patty it up and fry it in some butter until golden brown on both sides. It?s great for breakfast.

This is definitely a time-consuming recipe, and if you have someone to help you in the kitchen, that would be ideal to keep an assembly line going.

These are also really good, and you get a nice feeling of accomplishment as you pull each one out of the frying pan.

And if you try some other fillings or have your own pierogi traditions, let me know. I?m ready to mix another batch up soon.

When not helping husband Joey with newspaper work, Lindsey teaches speech, debate and forensics at Haven High School. She can be reached at lindseyclarion@gmail.com.

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