Happy April, Everyone. I thought I would squeeze in one last winter recipe today before spring.
I grew up eating pierogies (“per-o-gies” for those of you unfamiliar.) Not much Eastern European heritage in my family, but Alberta is famously home to generations of immigrants from the Ukraine & Poland, who brought to Canada not only their farming abilities, but also their food. Pierogies are a generally a potato and cheese dumpling wrapped in soft pasta-like dough. They come in many iterations – plain potato, sauerkraut, onion-laced, cheddar, I’ve even seen blueberry – and are generally served either boiled, or lightly pan fried.
I was struck with a horrible pierogi itch a few weeks back, which I scratched with a visit to a local Polish restaurant. We shared a plate of pierogies, kielbasa, and a mushroom dish at a fire-side table no less. Charming as the restaurant was, the pierogies themselves left soemthing to be desired. Namely: flavor and seasoning.
Of course, I set about a pierogi redemption at home. The recipe here is flavor-rich with deeply caramelized shallots and scallions plus a little smokey paprika. Served with crispy fried bacon and a sour cream, they are the ultimate dinner time treat.
Makes about 45 small pierogi which freeze very well.
Homemade Pierogi with Cottage Cheese, Scallions, & Shallots
- 3 cups, 675g all purpose flour
- 1 cup, 205g cold water
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Filling & Topping
- 1 lb, 454g Russet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
- 4 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2/3 cup, 75g cottage cheese
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika or more to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Leftover caramelized shallots & scallions (above)
- Crispy fried bacon (optional)
- Grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
Make the dough by placing the flour in a medium mixing bowl and forming a well in the center. Add the water, egg, oil, and salt to the well and, beating with a fork, gradually incorporated the flour into the liquid ingredients until a dough begins to form. At this point, dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and kneed 10 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rest 1 hour, while you prepare the filling.
While the dough is resting, boil the potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted water until soft. Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet. Once hot, add the scallions, shallots, and garlic. Cook on medium-high heat until soft and aromatic, then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until caramelized – this should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add about 1/3 of the scallion-shallot mixture, the cottage cheese, nutmeg, paprika, and salt and pepper. Mash everything together until you have a uniform mixture – I like a filling with a little texture, not completely smooth. Save the remaining scallion-shallot mixture for topping the pierogi.
To form the pierogies, divide the dough in two pieces. Working with one at a time, roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut circles out of the dough using a 4 inch cookie cutter. Place a rounded tablespoon of filling on each circle and fold into a half-moon shape. Pinch closed, making sure no air pocket is left inside. If needed, wet the dough slightly with cold water to seal it. Repeat with the remaining dough and re-roll the scraps. Set the finished pierogies on a lightly floured sheet tray and refrigerate until ready to cook or freeze. Once frozen, the pierogies can be transfered to a zip-top bag.
You’ll likely have leftover filling. This can be mixed with an egg, formed into patties, and pan fried to make delicious potato pancakes.
To cook the pierogies, boil a large pot of salted water. Add the pierogies without overcrowding the pan. For fresh, cook 2-3 minutes until floating. For frozen, cook 4-5 minutes until floating. Drain and serve with desired toppings – sour cream or greek yogurt and leftover caramelized shallots & scallions are a must!
Alternatively, boiled pierogies can be lightly pan fried in butter before serving.