I’m going on record to say that brainstorming is the sign of a good marriage. Angie and I brainstorm all the time; which Seattle restaurants to review, how to fit 1100 square feet of stuff into our 800 square foot condo, what we should have named the kids. Would it kill us to have one Jebediah? During a night of red wine, Dean Martin on the record player and some cooking, we started on the subject of new recipes. We’re still plowing through a bible-thick stack of loose leaf note paper and a beaten up old moleskin notebook of recipes from years of blissful marriage, but adding something new into the mix every now and then lets us learn something and adds a little intrigue to the dinner table. During our January Healthier Eating series of posts, we’re still living large and reckless one day each weekend and recently decided to explore our lineage a bit. Angie’s family is a mix of Italian and Polish, while mine hails from Brussels, Germany and French Canada. We’ve got nothing but options. We started with this simple, traditional polish pierogi dish, which immediately won our hearts and tastebuds, while the former fared less favorably then the latter, we’re playing around with a healthier version for a later post. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to an absolutely fabulous and fairly easy to make from scratch pierogi recipe, then you’ve landed right where you belong.
Our ricotta and potato filled polish pierogis were as delicious as they were fun to make. A 10 out of 9 on the comfort-meter, with a brilliant blend of savory taste, smooth texture, hardy pasta and just an ever so sweet undertone from the ricotta. We gave them a quick slap into a medium-high heat skillet to add a dash of light brown color before tossing them in the onion mixture. This recipe is adapted from several sources, mainly epicurious.com and a few notes I scribbled on an index card years ago. We put ricotta in anything that might otherwise ask for cheddar, farmer’s or curd-type cheese. It worked out incredibly well for us, but you can adapt it with your favorite. Stick to low-moisture varieties and you’ll be fine. Enjoy.
Soundtrack: Dean Martin makes me want the fedora to come back in the worst way. My small head makes it an impractical dream, but man, the style in those days was just so awesome. We picked up a secondhand vinyl pressing of The Lush Years, which starts with Volare and just keeps getting better as the wine bottle gets lighter.
Makes around 48 pierogis, enough to serve 6-8 adult sized humans. Time: It took us (as newbies) 40 minutes to prep and assemble these and just a few minutes in some boiling water. Let’s call it an hour plus one hour to let the dough stand.
3 Cups organic, all-purpose flour (plus a little for kneading the dough)
1 Cup water
1 large, organic, free-range egg
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
2 lbs. russet potatoes
2 Cups organic ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (fresh if you have it)
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1 large onion, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thin lenghtwise
1/2 Cup organic, unsalted butter
Dash of kosher salt
Place flour in a large shallow bowl or a large flat surface and make a well in center with your fist. Add the water, egg, olive oil, and salt to the center of the well and mix together with a fork, mixing the ingredients in the well without incorporating flour just yet. With a spatula or a wooden spoon, gradually incorporate the flour into the mixture by stirring, until dough forms. Move dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. You can add a little flour if needed to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. You’ll have a soft dough in about 10 minutes. See the photo below as a reference. Turn a bowl over to cover the dough and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Peel, cut and boil your potatoes in a large pan of boiling water with a little Kosher salt. Your potatoes are done in about 10 minutes, when they are soft and slide off of a fork when pierced in the center of one of the pieces. Drain the water from the potatoes and add them to a medium bowl with the ricotta, salt, white and black pepper and nutmeg. Mash with a potato masher or in an electric mixer at medium speed, fitted with a paddle attachment.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and cook until tender. Set aside while you assemble your pierogis.
Once the potato mixture has cooled enough to handle, scoop up a little more than a teaspoon at a time, form into a ball and set on a plate until you’ve used all of the mixture. We ended with 48 potato balls though I think Angie might have eaten one when I wasn’t looking. I ate one when she wasn’t looking so maybe there were 50.
Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured piece of 12″X12″ parchment paper, being careful to use as little flour as you can. Too much flour and your dough will slide all over the place while you’re trying to roll it. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a round, 1/8″ thick shape (about 14″ around), then cut out 24-ish rounds with a lightly floured, 3″ round cutter. Place each round of dough in the palm of your hand, fill it with one of the potato balls and fold in half around the potato. Pinch the edges down and completely seal them. If your edges don’t seal properly, dab a little water on them and try again. As you finish your first batch, set them aside on a plate and begin the second and final batch. Keep the unused half of dough under the bowl until you’re ready for the second batch, then knead it a little more before you roll it out.
Boil 1/3 of the pierogis at a time, cooking each batch for 5 minutes (until they float to the top), stirring once or twice to keep them from sticking to each other. Transfer them to a large plate. Stop and sip some wine or beverage of your choice…you’ve been working hard and doing a great job. Ok, now, add the other 2/3 of your pierogis one batch at a time until you’ve cooked them all. In 3-4 equal batches, transfer the pierogis into the skillet with the onion mixture, with the skillet over low heat. Let the pierogis cook in the mixture for 2 minutes, toss to coat, then move them to a plate and repeat until all of your pierogis are done. You’re an amazing human being an talented Chef. Serve.