Thursday, April 03, 2008

Cue the Polka!

I mentioned earlier in the week that I made pirogies for some friends. I don't mean I boiled up some Mrs. T's either. Short of milling the flour and growing the potatoes, these babies are 100% from scratch. And while pirogi making is a time consuming event, it is, at heart, quite simple. Also, there is no better way to get anyone, man or woman, to profess their undying love to you than to serve them up a piping hot plate of these mama jammers smothered with butter and onions. Shall we begin? Excellent!

The two main components of these tasty little bites are the pasta and the filling. I'm a bit of a purist, so I just use potatoes, cheese and sour cream, plus salt and pepper. Once you make the dough, though, you can fill it with whatever you like. They can become ravioli or pot stickers or even empanadas. The dough is simple, really. Take 4 cups of all purpose flour and sift with a teaspoon of salt. Then make a hole in the middle, and into the hole crack two eggs. Then I like to add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the hole as well. Use your hands to mix this together until it is crumbly and looks like this:

At this point, because I am lazy, I let my mixer to the heavy lifting. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, great! If not, then get ready for an excellent forearm workout. The next step is to add water to the dough so that it comes together. The key to this step is to add as little water as possible, so I use a spray bottle (an idea I totally stole from this guy) to moisten the top, mix, and then spray again until the dough forms a ball. At this point, let the mixer knead the dough for 5 minutes or knead by hand for 10. Sorry! After kneading, let your dough rest in the fridge for about half an hour. Rub the top with some oil so it doesn't get crusty, though!

On to the potatoes!

For this size batch of dough you should need about half a bag of potatoes. Don't worry if you have extra, just serve them as a side dish tomorrow! Peel, cube and boil them until they are fork tender. Then transfer to a bowl (again I'm using the mixer, but this part you can easily do by hand with a masher) and add about 4 ounces of cheese and 8 ounces of sour cream. But seriously, not a single person would fault you if you used double that amount! Then toss on some salt and pepper and mash/mix for only as long as it takes for everything to come together. Over-mixing is the devil! It'll make the spuds all gluey. It's ok if there are lumps, really!

In the end they should look like this:

All these need are a little butter and/or milk to become the world's best mashed potatoes. That, and maybe a little bacon. Now, we assemble! Get all your things together:

What? You say you don't have a shiny-pasta-rolling-out-machine-type-thing? No problem! Just use a rolling pin. Again, a little more work for you, but the end result is the same. If you've got 'em, call on your squad of helpers for this part!

As a child I loved when my grandma would let me roll the dough, and it seems Sam enjoys it as well. Just watch for little fingers in the roller. I doubt they could get in there, but I wouldn't want to have to test that theory!

Lucy was a bit young for the roller, but she did make an excellent dough tester. And she's wearing the appropriate food preparation gear!

Roll out the dough to your desired thickness (I like mine so that you can almost see through it, but you have to be a little more delicate to manage it in this way) and use whatever you have on hand to cut it into little circles. You can make them whatever shape you like, really, but as I mentioned before I'm a purist. Put a small (and I mean small) dollop of your yummy potato mix on each circle. A teaspoon, at best. Too much and the pasta won't stick together and you'll have a big un-yummy mess on your hands when it comes time to boil.

Then simply fold the dough over, making sure to squeeze any air out, and seal the ends together. I just dip my finger in water and run it around the edge before I press the ends together. This step requires some practice, but once you find your rhythm you'll be crankin' them out in no time! This recipe makes about 100 pirogies, and if you line them up on a cookie sheet like I do, then you can pop them into the freezer with ease. A few hours later transfer them to a freezer bag and keep them for another day. If they last that long. Usually I make double this amount, freeze half and then feed the troops the other half that day.

To cook them, salt a big pot of water and bring it to a boil. Once it's there, reduce the temperature and add the pirogies no more than 2 dozen at a time. Since the filling is cooked already, we're really only cooking the pasta, which takes no time at all. Keep the water from reaching a rolling boil because then the pirogies are more likely to break apart, and just cook them until they float. I like to serve them up with butter and fried onions, but you can do just about anything you like. Sam likes his with ketchup. I would have liked to taken a photograph of this step, but I couldn't keep the food on the plate long enough to get my camera. For real.

Genie├čen Sie!

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super des said...

I love pierogis. There was a 24 hour Ukranian (? am I forgetting already?) that had yummy cheap pierogis. I ate there a lot. I've never made my own though.

Anonymous said...

Do you do mail order or what?! I totally need those in my life asap!


Mrs. Chicken said...

I adore these. We had the real deal when we went to Krakow years ago. Totally making these ... someday.

Arizaphale said...

I have never heard of them before but I am waaaaay impressed by your tutorial. I would never attempt it in a pink fit but I bow down before you crying "I am not worthy"!!!!!!

Stacy said...

I'll have to try this at some point - I love pierogis.