September 2, 2011

Potato and Cheese Pierogis

Dear Friend,

Every so often, I wake up feeling ambitious. Today, this was the case. Instead of going to the freezer and pulling out a bag of frozen, pre-made, store bought pierogis, I decided to make you some from scratch.

I remember you saying that you've been craving some sort of dumpling filled bundle of goodness for weeks. Last night, at 2:00 in the morning, I was flipping through an old-school copy of Fine Cooking. I stumbled upon a mouth watering recipe for pierogis, and of course, my initial Pavlovian response was to drool. My second response was to put on an apron, but because it was 2:00 am, I went to bed. I then woke up this morning wearing an apron?!?!

I vividly remember my first pierogi experience. It was late afternoon. I was on my way home from an exhausting day of multiplication. I was sitting at the front of the big yellow bus. This is where I sat, because I loved my bus driver. I was sitting with a close friend, whose family was from Polish descent. Out of her cabbage patch kid lunch pail, she pulled a cute little potato and cheese filled bundle. It was completely foreign to me. Honestly, if you weren't serving Kraft dinner, hot dogs, or frozen fish sticks, it was going to be foreign.

At the time, I was so excited by this experience. It felt so wonderful to be trying something new. Little did I know that the feeling of excitement and appreciation for all things food, would become a part of who I am today.

From what I understand, there are two ways to make pierogis. The first method involves rolling out the dough, sliding it through a pasta maker, then cutting out small circles with a pastry cutter. This method ensures your pierogis will have a uniform thickness and shape.

The second method is to pinch off small pieces of dough, roll them into small balls, and then individually roll them out with a rolling pin. This is how I chose to do things, because to be quite honest, I don't own a pasta maker, and at the time it seemed easier.

I went on a whim and assumed that you like diagrams and pictures as much as I do. If you also like to stick your finger in the peanut butter jar when no one's looking, then I'm really getting to know you - this is good.

I took some pictures for you, illustrating how to make a pierogi. I really want you to try to make some at home. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than making things from scratch, and I thought we could share this feeling together.

First you want to pinch off a piece of dough the size of a key lime. Roll the dough in your hands into a round ball. Place the ball on a floured work surface.

With a well floured rolling pin, roll out the dough 3 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.

Take a scoop of the potato mixture and place it in the center of the dough.

Fold the edges over and press firmly to the outer sides. If you are having difficulty getting the edges to stick, use a drop of water. Press little grooves in the dough with your finger for design. You could also try using a fork. Get creative, this is your moment.

Boil the pierogis for 6 minutes. Take them out of the pot and place on a towel, to dry off the excess water. Fry the pierogis in butter for 2 -3 minutes on each side.

Remove the pierogis from the pan and let them cool long enough so that you wont burn your mouth while eating. For me, this is one minute. For mr. H, this is 10. I'm betting that you probably have the same heat tolerance as me.

Next, grab that pierogi with your hand and use it as a device to scoop up some deliciously rich sour cream - preferably full fat. Don't skimp. The ratio should be 1:1.

Pierogis should have a crisp outer layer, with an ever so slight chewiness. The inside filling should be soft and fluffy, and melt in your mouth.

I suddenly have a gush of emotions remembering that late fall afternoon, on the big yellow bus, the first time I tried a pierogi. I fell in love.

[Print Recipe]

{recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine}

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp sour cream
3 large eggs
1 cup water
3 russet potatoes
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 - 4 tbsp butter for frying


1. In a large bowl, beat the flour, sour cream, and eggs with a hand mixer on low speed.

2. Slowly add in the water, and mix until combined.

3. Knead the dough (2 min) using the dropping method (lifting the dough from the surface and dropping it on the counter), be sure to not over-knead. The dough should be smooth. Once the dough is kneaded, cover it with Saran wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

4. While the dough is resting, peel and chop the potatoes. Boil them for 20 minutes or until they are soft. Drain off any excess water with a strainer and place in a large bowl. Add the butter and sour cream and mash until smooth and creamy. Stir in the garlic powder, salt, and and cheddar cheese. Set to the side.

5. Take the dough and pinch off a small piece, tablespoon size. With your hands, roll into a small ball. Place the ball onto a floured surface, and roll it out (with a rolling pin) into a flat circle, approximately 3 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Place it to the side under a damp cloth to prevent the dough from drying out. Continue the process until you've rolled out all the dough.

6. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

7. To assemble the pierogis, place a heaping spoonful of the potato mixture in the center of the pierogi circle. Fold over the sides and pinch. If the dough doesn’t stick together, use a drop of water. Keep the pierogis covered with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out.

8. Once the water has boiled, place 6 pierogis in the pot at a time. Once the pierogis have begun to float, continue boiling for 4 more minutes. Remove from water and place on a towel to soak up the excess water. Make sure the pierogis aren't touching, this will prevent them from sticking together.

9. Next, fry the pierogis in butter, on low-medium heat until golden brown on each side. You can also fry them with onions and serve with sour cream for dipping.

Pierogis can be frozen raw or cooked/boiled. If you are going to freeze them from cooked (boiled), make sure they have cooled first.


  1. I am totally obsessed with perogies. My mom used to make them all the time when I was growing up. I will have to try your recipe.


  2. Thanks. Let me know what you think.

  3. Having eaten 30 of them in one sitting, I believe this perogies are delicious. However, more testing might be needed -- bring on the next 30!

  4. I love the story about the bus. I can also remember the first time I had a pierogi. I as well, fell in love. Thanks for the great post and recipe.


  5. Jag - you dirty dag

    Shawna - that's awesome.

  6. OH WOW. I love these little guys. Have to make them soon. :) BEAUTIFUL blog. I'm new -- I'll be back. Telling my friends....

  7. Thanks Laura. Glad you like.

  8. Oh theses look so yummy.. if you were having a party and wanted to do them as nibbles.. could you do the boiling stage and leave them for a bit then fry them..?

    whatever I'm totally giving it a go! also new to your blog and your food looks yummy! off to read more x

  9. Wellies and Vogue - Definitely, you can boil and fry them at a later time. You can store them in the frige or freezer, and fry them up when ready.