Making my own food is so satisfying. I can control the quality of the basic ingredients that form a dish. These pierogies were made with organic unbleached flour, real cheddar cheese (not that processed crap), red onions, organic potatoes, and chives from the front garden. Back in junior high when I first learned the ways of the pierogi, we lived on a farm and grew a large portion of our own food. If I could get the cement-like dirt in my yard to loosen up I could grow the potatoes and onions needed for this recipe. All that I would need is a cheese purveyor and charcuterie for bacon.
I’ve noticed everyone makes their batch of tamales for the year (or few months) during the winter holiday season. In Canada, it’s cold at least 80% of the year, so there is some leeway in the definition of “winter season”, nonetheless it’s a good time to gather and make homemade food to last through to spring. My tamale is the pierogi. If only I had a bigger freezer!
Traditional pierogies, at least in my family, were filled with potato and cheese. There are all sorts of variations from blueberry, to cottage cheese, to mushroom. Not a huge fan of the sweet blueberry version. A perogie in my mind is savoury. And bacon. Lots of bacon involved.
Here is how I made my pierogies.
1. Gather your ingredients and equipment:
- 6 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 6 tablespoons oil
- leftover mashed potato
- sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- cooked bacon and onion, fine dice
- fresh chives
- round cookie cutter
- pierogi press (kitchen toy, not essential but it makes pretty pierogies)
- tray covered in parchment or wax paper that fits in the freezer horizontally (check to be sure you have space!)
- pastry mat or floured work surface
- small dish of water
2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix the water, eggs, oil in another bowl.
3. Pour the egg mixture in the flour.
4. Stir until almost all the flour is absorbed, add more water a teaspoon at a time to reach a uniform dough. Little hands can help, too!
5. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes.
6. Let the dough rest covered by the bowl or plastic wrap on the counter for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile mix the filling. I prefer to have the “goodies” in one bowl (bacon, onion, half the cheese, and chives) and the potato in the other with half the cheese. Make sure the potatoes are cold otherwise the cheese will melt and that doesn’t make for good pierogies.
7. Take a baseball-sized portion of the dough and roll out on the floured mat/countertop until it’s very thin.
8. Cut rounds of dough.
9. Place the dough on the pierogi press, stretch the edges if needed.
10. Fill the center with a bit of the bacon mixture and top off with potato. There should be about a rounded teaspoon of filling total. Watch out for pokey bacon pieces that pierce the belly of the pierogi!
11. Dip a finger in the water.
12. Rub the water around half the perimeter of the dough.
14. There’s your pierogi!
15. Place the pierogies on the sheet pan and freeze. Once frozen (20 minutes) transfer to freezer bags. Use within 3 months for best results. Repeat until you run out of filling or dough or patience.
Alright, that’s the hard part. The easy part is cooking and enjoying all your hard work. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop your frozen pierogies in the water (not too many, don’t crowd the hot tub) and boil until they float to the top. I give them an extra 30-45 seconds then remove with a slotted spoon. If you want the full experience of the Canadian Perogie, fry those suckers in butter and top with bacon and caramelized onions, with a spoonful of sour cream. Yeah baby. Effin heart attack on a plate! I suggest serving 2 or 3 pierogies per person the first time you make this. Let them develop the thirst for butter-coated potato cheddar pierogies before telling them how many are in the freezer. More for you in the meantime, eh?