Saturday, 14 August 2010

Russian Style Pierogi

What's better than fresh pasta? Fresh pasta stuffed with bacon, potato and cheese - that's what! I do love pierogi, delicious pockets of goodness boiled to tender goodness and, in this case, sautéed to perfection in a generous pat of salted butter with Swiss chard as a nod to health and colour and great flavour.

This is a great recipe that puts supermarket pierogi to shame. A bit of a labour of love, to be sure, but pour yourself a glass of wine and get into it. You will be glad you did.

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

Russian Style Pierogi
(makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings)
(Traditional Polish recipe, although each family will have their own version, this is Anula's family recipe)

Dough:
2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water

Filling:
3 big potatoes, cooked & mashed (1 1/2 cup leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
1 cup (225 g) cottage cheese, drained (I used yogurt cheese)
1 onion, diced & sauteed in butter until clear
3 or more slices of streaky bacon, diced and fried till crispy
1 egg yolk (from medium egg)
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, melted
1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper to taste


1. Combine all the ingredients for the filling (it’s best to use one’s hands to do that) put into the bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge until you have to use it.

2. Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm water at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You’re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.

3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass (personally I used 4-inch/10 cm cutter as it makes nice size pierogi - this way I got around 20 of them and 1 tablespoon of filling is perfect for that size). Spoon a portion of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

4. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.

5. Serve immediately preferably with creme fraiche (I used strained yogurt) or fry. Cold pierogi can be fried. Boiled Russian pierogi can be easily frozen and boiled taken out straight from the freezer.