One of the wonderful things about living in Cleveland is exploring all of the wonderful ethnic restaurants, and experimenting with old-fashioned ethnic foods that are new to our family. For most of our friends and neighbors, there is nothing new or exciting about pierogies - they have been enjoying these during Lent and at other family holidays for generations. But for those of us who have transplanted to the area, discovering pierogies for the first time, and more specifically discovering the absolute deliciousness of HOMEMADE pierogies, is a wonderful treat!
One of my good friends shared her family recipe and the history of pierogies in her family - absolutely had me in awe! Linda hosts periodic pierogie parties - lining up workers in her beautiful kitchen - each one trained for their task, and they pump out 400 of these during an exhausting day of flour, fun and memories.
These are the most beautiful homemade pierogies I have ever seen....or enjoyed! They are pierogie perfection - simple and each bite filled with flavor.
The hard and time-consuming task is making these beauties, but once you have a taste of the finished product, you will always want more! (And I'm guessing that a supply waiting in the freezer makes everyone REALLY happy!)
I started by making a batch of Apple Kielbasa, but you can also simply saute your kielbasa and onions if you prefer, and serve with a side of natural applesauce.
Apple Kielbasa is so easy to make - slice up two pounds of your favorite smoked kielbasa and brown in a skillet. Mix 1/2 cup of brown sugar into 3 cups of unsweetened applesauce. Layer the kielbasa, onions and applesauce mixture in a slow cooker; set to low and cook for 4 to 6 hours.
If you are using frozen homemade pierogies, thaw by putting them in boiling water for a few minutes. When they rise to the top, remove with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of butter and olive oil in a large frying pan. When hot, layer the pierogies in a single layer and saute until golden and just starting to brown a little; flip and saute the other side until golden.
And now is the best part! Serve your wonderful, golden and hot pierogies with hot Apple Kielbasa, wonderfully flavored onions, and a dollop of fresh sour cream. You can always garnish with some snipped chives.
Even after my "tentative" eaters had tried a bite, they were scrambling for more....and begging for me to make these again soon.
Hope that you enjoy this wonderful and old-fashioned homemade treat as much as we did!
LINDA’S STORY BEHIND THE PEROGIES:
“Although my Mom was Italian, my Dad's family was Polish and Lithuanian. My Mom learned to make great pierogies. We always had them for Christmas and, of course, on Fridays during Lent. Although the recipe below was developed by my sister-in-law Kathie as a manageable size for one person to make, my Mom always made huge batches, usually 400. She said, "It's not worth messing up the kitchen unless you make a big batch."
We make pierogies in assembly line fashion, with one person at the pot to keep the batches moving along. This is a great recipe for a family project – little kids can roll the potato balls, older kids can pinch and seal and teenagers can manage the pot. It was a real mark of adulthood when you were entrusted with the rolling pin.
I know that some cooks use filling other than potatoes, but my family uses only the potato and cheese variety.
A note on the potatoes: When I was growing up, instant potatoes never made an appearance in our home. My Mom boiled potatoes and mashed them. Years after I moved away, I happened to be home while she was making pierogis and found, to my surprise, that she was using instant potatoes. She told me she had been using instant for years; obviously, I had not noticed the difference!”
Large bowl and pot, rolling pin, cookie cutter or cup, forks, cookie sheets and freezer bags for the freezing stage. Helps to have many hands on deck!
YIELD: 6 to 7 dozen per batch; you can multiply this recipe to your heart’s content!
INGREDIENTS & HOW WE MAKE THIS:
Hungry Jack Instant Potatoes
1 brick Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (freshly grated)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling surface and if dough needs it)
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sour cream
COOKING & SERVING:
Pierogies are versatile and can be prepared much like potatoes. If you are using frozen pierogies, thaw by putting them in boiling water for a few minutes. When they rise to the top, remove with slotted spoon and drain in colander.
From there, the common cooking methods are sautéing and frying. For the sauté method, we cook up sliced onions in a mixture of half butter and half oil, cook until the onions are soft and just starting to brown a little, then add the drained pierogies, mix gently, heat through and serve.
Some people prefer pierogies fried. They brown up nicely, sort of like french fries, but you need only a small amount of oil or butter to fry them.
For accompaniments, the typical garnish is sour cream. While it's not my preference, some folks like ketchup on fried pierogies.
SOURCE: Linda Striefsky
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