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.
I have to say, I was really excited to read this month's challenge. I love pierogi!! I get the frozen ones from time to time, and have even made them from scratch once, too. So when I saw that this would be what we were making, I was psyched. The one thing that I was a little stuck on that the "local interest" thing... I live in the Philadelphia (PA) area. Foods that come to mind for me: cheese steaks (not for the Kosher vegetarian, thanks!), soft pretzels with mustard (inside a pasta-type outside?), Philadelphia cream cheese (possible, I guess)... I was kind of stuck. I wanted to get an early start on the challenge, but trying to come up with a filling was frustrating me! I finally decided that my locale would be home, and I would make my filling a family favorite.
I made the Russian style pierogi dough recipe rather than the Wareneki which has a dairy base to it. The Russian dough is much more like pasta, and felt (to me) to be a little more versatile. It is also the one I am more familiar with... I know, not so daring of me, but... oh well, that's how things go sometimes! According to the recipe, the dough should rest for about 20 minutes. I actually made it the day before I planned on using it, so it went into the fridge overnight - I was saying that my dough was more rested than I was!!
For my filling, as I mentioned, I decided to do a "local" favorite - nachos!! (Yes, I oh-so-creatively called these "Nacho Ordinary Pierogi" 'cause I am clever like that...) I started with a combination of black and pinto beans, soaked overnight and simmered until tender. I then mashed them up a little bit along with some shredded cheddar cheese. Our favorite nacho toppings were now ready to go on the inside!
The traditional way to make pierogi involves rolling out the dough and cutting circles with a biscuit cutter. I don't have a cutter, and I had been seeing some people express concern that rerolling the dough made it tougher to work with. So I took the advice and experience of Aunty Twin and made my pierogi "shells" individually - roll a "snake," then cut small pieces, roll them into balls and flatten them out. Not as pretty, even or uniform as the traditional way, but effective!! Next step was to fill these pseudo-circles, then crimp them closed with a fork. I probably should have used some sort of measuring spoon or something to scoop my filling, but that would have required thinking of that in advance! So I used a regular spoon and had an adventure trying to get enough filling, but not too much!, into each pierogi. Just as with the dough, I wasn't exactly consistent, but it seemed to work out fine!
The pierogi are then cooked twice. First they are boiled, then they are fried. I have eaten them only boiled, but I have to say, the frying makes them crispy, which is something I love. I highly recommend taking the extra step!! For this batch I actually fried the pierogi with onions, just for the extra flavor and nacho-ness.
Traditional pierogi (as far as I know, at least) are served with sour cream. Yes, this would have worked beautifully with my nacho filling, but I decided to go, again, with the house favorites - home made salsa and guacamole. Hubby, Little Girl and I all loved the results! This is something I am DEFINITELY going to have to make again!!I thought I was done for the month, then I decided to make one more type, this time using an actual local influence. As I said, I am near Philadelphia. I am also (relatively) close to Hershey. Yes, Hershey - as in Hershey's chocolate. So, yes, I made chocolate pierogi! There is very little out there that doesn't make me want to try a dessert version...!
I used the same Russian dough recipe, but added a little bit of sugar and a bit of cocoa powder. the resulting dough looked nice and chocolaty! For the filling I used Hershey Kisses. Yup, into each small circle of dough I placed a single Kiss. It was a little silly, but really quite fun!
Once sealed, I still did the double cooking process. Fried and crispy, these were tasty little morsels!! I guess they could have been served with whipped cream, or a fruit puree... But we just ate them straight! They were crispy on the outside, gooey and chocolaty on the inside... Well worth it!!
So thank you to LizG and Anula for this amazing challenge! Even knowing pierogi, you made me think about them in a whole new way, and it was so much fun! Thanks to you, pierogi will be reentering our family's regular rotation!
If you want to see the fun, creative and flavorful creations made by my fellow Daring Cooks, take a look here.