Pierogi - Potato Cheese Dumplings

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"Comfort food is a dish that provides nostalgic or sentimental value to someone, and may be characterized by its high caloric nature, high carbohydrate level, or simple preparation". (Thank you, Wikipedia). Pierogi (plural can be pierogis or pierogi) check all the above boxes. They are basically doughy pockets of a sweet or savory filling which are then boiled and/or fried. These specific pierogi are filled with cheesy mashed potatoes and fried in bacon grease. Think: a Chinese dumpling or Italian ravioli filled with a loaded mashed potato. If that doesn't comfort you - dough, cheese, bacon, and potatoes - I don't know what will.

As both my hunny and I are of Polish descent, these little dumplings curb our nostalgic (and regular) appetite.

Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

This make about 50 dumplings.

Potato Filling:

  • 2 lbs of russet potatoes
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 - 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella*
  • 1/2 cup cheddar*

*I use these cheese because I often have them and they are my favorite. Use what you have or like.

Dough:

  • 3 egg
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder

Topping (optional):

  • 4 oz bacon, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Sour cream

Materials:

  • Knife
  • Wet paper towel or plastic wrap
  • Rolling pin and/or pasta machine
  • 3" round cutter (either a cookie cutter or a glass, something with a sharp edge)
  • Optional: pierogi press (buy or 3d print)
  • Optional: mixer with dough hook
  • Small dish with water (for sealing pierogi closed
  • Pot of boiling water
  • Frying pan

Step 2: Potato Filling

Potato Filling:

  • 2 lbs of russet potatoes
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 - 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup cheddar

First we are making our filling, which is basically dry mashed potatoes. How you get to the mashing step is up to you. Sometimes I will leave the skin on, dice up the potatoes, and put in my Instant Pot with chicken broth as the liquid. But since I wanted these pierogi to be more "normal", I boiled my potatoes. You can peel your potatoes and then boil them; that's how my mom does it. Or, I like to save myself time by boiling, then peeling. I make a shallow cut with a knife around the belly of the potato, boil the potatoes like normal for about 25-30 minutes (until a fork can be inserted easily), drain them, and then just rub off the skin. By making the initial cut, the skins are just ready to fall off.

While the potatoes are cooking, fry up the onions until they are golden brown and set them to the side. After all the potatoes are peeled, we add the rest of the ingredients - salt, butter, cream cheese, mozzarella, cheddar - and mash. TASTE the filling now! Add what you think it needs, just make sure it stays relatively dry.

Step 3: Dough

Dough:

  • 3 egg
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder

There are tons of recipes online for unleavened dough; however, I am partial to sour cream dough. This dough is a tad harder to roll out, but I didn't have a single pierogi rip while pulling the dough around the filling.

We start by whisking the egg and sour cream together. Then in a separate mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients. If you have a sifter, you can sift your dry ingredients. I do not (forgive me, mom). Next, we pour the egg and sour cream mixture over the flour ingredients and use a dough hook to mix in the mixer for about 10 minutes.

Using a mixer is a new thing for me; I just found a cheap Kitchenaid at a garage sale. If you don't have a mixer, or prefer to knead by hand, you can do so on a lightly floured flat surface. I tried to link to an Instructable about kneading dough, but apparently the Instructable community really likes "no-knead bread". Sorry folks. Just mix it first to combine, and then smash it a bunch of times into itself until it's smooth and elastic.

Let your dough rest for about 30 minutes and keep covered with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap. Making dough while the potatoes are cooking works out pretty well.

Once you are ready to roll out, you have a couple options. You can roll it out with a rolling pin or use a pasta machine. If you are using a rolling pin only, cut the dough in half or quarters and roll from the center out until the dough is evenly about 1/8" inch. If you are using a pasta press, you will need to take small pieces of the dough, roll out a flat oblong shape, and stick in the pasta machine starting at the 7 and decreasing to a smaller width each time (I stop at 4 or so). Using a pasta machine takes more time as the sections are smaller, but rolling out to an exact width is easier.

Whichever method you use, make sure the dough you aren't using is covered to keep it from drying.

Take your 3" cutter (or whatever size is a little bigger than your pierogi press if you have one) and cut out the dumpling circles. Remove the scraps and stick back with other dough.

Step 4: Stuff Them Babies

Start off by grabbing yourself a chair*, some music or tv, and definitely a pierogi-stuffing partner. This is what makes pierogis comfort food - not just the cheese - but the time spent pulled up to the counter making them with family or friends.

*You'll need a chair because this can take a bit of time. Getting or making a pierogi press (linked on the ingredients page) will make the process fly. Maybe this is why I haven't made one yet...

For this step you'll need your dough rounds, a spoon, filling, a dish of water, and a pierogi press or fork.

Take a small spoonful of your filling and roll it in your hands to smooth it down; I like to make it oblong a bit so it lays better in the dumpling. I dip my finger in the water and circle around the dough, so the dumpling is more likely to stay closed. Then I fold the round into what looks like a taco and begin to press from the top edge out. Get all the air bubbles out of the dumpling as you go, and try to keep the filling out of the edge. You can either go back and press the seam again and add in fancy curled edges, or take a fork and press the edges together.

If using a pierogi press, lay a dough round in the press, add a spoonful of filling, and clamp down. Wait... why haven't I bought one of these yet?...

Lay formed pierogi on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper sprayed with oil, and don't let the dumplings touch, as they are prone to sticking. (side note: this dough recipe is actually pretty non-sticky, which is why I like it).

Step 5: Boil & Fry

The bacon frying part is optional, but I highly recommend it. First, chop up some bacon and fry it. Remove bacon bits with a slotted spoon and leave as much grease as possible as that is what we will fry the dumplings in.

Get a stockpot of water boiling and drop in dumplings, making sure the pot isn't crowded. (I boiled about eight pierogi at a time.) As soon as you drop them in, gently stir them; otherwise, they will stick to the bottom. Once the dumplings float, start a timer for 3-5 minutes.

If you are going to eat the pierogi without frying them, stick them on an oiled plate. If you are frying them, place them on a plate with a paper towel. If you pull out a super wet boiled pierogi and stick it in grease, you will get major poppage. But don't let the pierogi stay on the paper towel too long or you will get major stickage. Just a quick dry is needed.

Place the pierogi in the grease pan and fry until golden brown. If you start to run out of grease, add some butter. Only fry what you are going to eat today!

Step 6: Top With Sour Cream and Bacon

Place the fried pierogi on a place and top with lots of sour cream and the bacon bits. My family also likes to dip piergoi in rotel dip, so there's that.

Step 7: Freeze

Boil all your pierogi, but if you want leftovers, place the unfried dumplings on a parchment paper lined sheet and freeze. Then stick in a ziplock back. When you are ready to eat, you can place the frozen dumplings in the hot grease with a lid and they will cook in a few minutes.

Comfort Food Challenge

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Comfort Food Challenge

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    16 Discussions

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    martihowton

    8 days ago on Step 7

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. My mom is from Canada, but her grandparents are from Ukraine. This recipe reminds me of something my mom use to make. I can't wait to try them.

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    moonraker1

    16 days ago on Step 7

    Thanks, great recepe, but it's called VARENIKI (vah-reh-nee-kee).
    Usually we freeze them first, then, when we want to eat them, we boil them, not fry. But some people like fried vareniki as well. Frozen vareniki can be kept in a freezer for a long time. Therefore we make loads of them and have stockpile in a freezer, just in case sudden guests show up at the door.

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    moonraker1MarietteM4

    Reply 15 days ago

    I'm sorry for not making it clear - it's true for Russia only. Pierogi in Russia is very different dish, very similar to ordinary pies. But smaller ones are called PIROZHKI, it's single-serving-size variant of a pie.

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    caitd3MarietteM4

    Reply 15 days ago

    I have heard a few other names also...by the way they are almost the same as the Chinese Wontons...same principle, and Empanada and Raviolis are other versions depending on the culture. Dumplings are nearly universal it seems. Somewhere in my library is a whole book on variations.

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    Whitney Fabrecaitd3

    Reply 15 days ago

    Exactly. Basically they are - universally - just dumplings. The big differences are the types of dough or wrappers used and the fillings. And then do you boil, bake, or fry. All in all, comforting. :)

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    caitd3Whitney Fabre

    Reply 15 days ago

    Found the book. Empanadas & Other International Turnovers by George Zabriskie, 1984. Only one dough recipe, but it is just the basic dough. It is what you put inside that makes them yummy, whether baked, fried or boiled. I remember Mom used sauerkraut in some and potato and onion in others.

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    Whitney FabreWhitney Fabre

    Reply 15 days ago

    Also - your book sounds fabulous. I should have done different variations for this, but these are such a comforting classic. I love cheesy bacon-y potatoes with sour cream and dough. I might add different recipes to this as I make them. Meat filled possibly?

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    Whitney FabreMarietteM4

    Reply 15 days ago

    Thanks for posting! I should add this into the Instructable :)

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    Whitney Fabremoonraker1

    Reply 15 days ago

    Thanks for sharing! I enjoy them both ways, but because it's a comfort food challenge, I wanted to go the extra step and fry them in bacon! How many do YOU make at one time?

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    moonraker1Whitney Fabre

    Reply 15 days ago

    Once frozen there are quite robust. Therefore when you boil them you don't need to be gentle - they're rock-hard!
    Actually you can add fried bacon to the filling, it saves time when you decide to cook . There are various kinds of filling - potatoes, fried cabbage, sweetened cottage cheese, cherries etc. Just no meat-based one (or chicken, or fish) - it'd make them to become PELMENI. :)

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    caitd3

    15 days ago on Step 7

    Those were my Mom's favorite. I decided to make a dessert Pierogi one day. Mixed soften cream cheese and pineapple preserves together for the filling. Boiled them and topped with melted butter. Yummy. You could substitute your favorite preserves in place of the pineapple preserves. These desert Pierogi were always a hit.

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    Whitney Fabrecaitd3

    Reply 15 days ago

    Hey ohhh! What a great idea. I think cream cheese and strawberry or raspberry preserves sounds divine. They would basically be a mini pie. Maybe with a little powdered sugar on top?

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    caitd3Whitney Fabre

    Reply 15 days ago

    ooooh! Powdered sugar! Great idea. I will try to find the title of that book. It was a small paperback with fantastic recipes. I will post it if I can locate it.

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    TimTheWizard

    15 days ago

    Love the instructable, very well made. I do want to point out that its nearly sacrilege to even mention the thought of frying a pierogi. In addition, wife's tale or not, you should do everything up until the boiling by hand, it makes them taste better.

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    Whitney FabreTimTheWizard

    Reply 15 days ago

    Haha, I appreciate you saying that! There seems to be a battle between boiled or fried. I wanted "extra comfort" for this comfort food challenge (so I fried), but I definitely encourage people to try them before frying to see which taste they like better! And yes, I think doing everything by hand makes them more special, and the dough somehow turns out better when kneaded by hand. But hey, I wanted to use my new garage sale mixer to test it out. :)