Sunday, February 24, 2013

Polish Pierogi--with Potato and Porcini Stuffing

Whenever foreign friends ask me what they should try while in Poland, I always recommend pierogi, and I do it without a second of hesitation. There is a huge variety of savory and sweet pierogi, with many different fillings, meat and vegetarian so anyone can discover one's favorite version.

My most favorite are vegetarian and savory pierogi, but if you want to try them, I would have to invite you over to my house, as I am not sure if they are available anywhere else. So I decided to popularize my favorite pierogi recipe on this blog.

The recipe for these particular pierogi was invented by my mother. It is based on a very popular version, the so-called "Russian", pierogi stuffed with potatoes and farmers' cheese. However, somehow these pierogi have never been very popular in my family. So my mother came up with an idea of making them with potatoes and dried porcini, instead of cheese. And we absolutely loved them in that version.

Pierogi are a wonderful dish but unfortunately they are quite labor-intensive. Over the years, I managed to find only two shortcuts in the whole rather complicated process. I make the dough in my Kitchen Aid Mixer and sometimes I use a pierogi maker form to cut and close them. But recently, I returned to the old method of rolling the dough on a larger surface with a rolling pin, cutting each piece with a cookie cutter, and gluing them with hands. I usually make a big batch of pierogi and freeze part of them for future uses.

There are also different dough recipes. My grandmother always made it with egg yolks but I have been using a recipe calling only for flour and water, or milk. The dough is not yellow (like in Italian ravioli) but it is also softer.

These pierogi can be served like some other versions with fried bacon on top but we have always made them in a vegetarian version with fried onion and freshly ground pepper.

Please try my favorite Polish dish.

Potato and Porcini Pierogi
(Makes about 60 mid-size pierogi)


For the dough:
4 cups of all purpose flour,
1 and 1/2 cup hot milk,
1 tbsp salt,
extra flour for dusting the surface.

For the filling:
3 large potatoes,
1 cup dried porcini,
2 onion, chopped,
3 tbsp olive oil,
salt and freshly ground pepper.
1/4 tsp nutmeg,
1/2 tsp ground coriander,
1/2 tsp red paprika,
1/2 tsp ground caraway.


1. Soak dried porcini for about an hour in 2 cups of cold water. Cook them in the same water for about 10 minutes. Cool, drain, and chop finely. Save the remaining water--it can be added to any sauces and soups to enhance the taste.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry chopped onion until transparent. Let it cool.

3. Peel off potatoes and cook until soft. Drain them and cool down. Purée them using a potato musher. Transfer the potato purée into a large bowl, add the chopped porcini, half of the fried onion (the rest will be used for garnish), and all the spices.

4. Mix the filling well with a fork and set aside while preparing the dough.

1. Place flour and salt in a bowl of a stand up mixer. Mix with a spatula.
2. Heat milk until almost to the point of boiling and add to the flour. With a hook attachment run a mixer on a slowest speed. When the flour is incorporated, run a mixer on a fast speed for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and shiny.

3. The dough also can be made manually. Put a flour mixed with salt on a working surface. Make a well in the middle and pour the milk in it. Working with hands incorporate the milk into the flour, then knead the dough for about 5 minutes until smooth.
4. Put a dough on a wooden cutting board dusted with flour and cover with a bowl.
5. Sift a little bit of flour on a working surface. I use my special wooden board or do that directly on the granite counter top.
6. Cut half of the dough and roll out with a rolling pin until very thin. Using a cookie cutter or a glass cup cut circles as closed to each other as possible. Remove the rest of the dough so only the cut out circles stay on the board. (The remaining dough can be cut into smaller pieces and cooked at the end as pasta.)

7. Meanwhile, boil about a gallon of water in a large pot with a tbsp salt.
8. On each of the dough circle place about a tbsp of filling. Wet the edges of the circle with water, fold in half, and close with fingers pressing down both sides of the half circle

9. Toss the pierogi into the boiling water. When they appear on the surface of the pot turn down the heat to medium and cook them for about 3-5 minutes. Drain on a colander.
10. Make the same way a second batch of pierogi with the remaining other half of the dough.
11. Serve pierogi with fried onion and red or white sour cabbage salads.

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