One of my first boyfriends was half Polish. His grandmother introduced me to the magnificent Perogi. Rich-chewy dumplings made of sour cream dough stuffed with potatoes and cheese, boiled and then sloshed around in melted butter and served with crispy onions and more sour cream. I fell in love with these little pockets of goodness and have always wanted to try my hand at making them.
They are so rich that I can’t really imagine eating them more than a few times a year but when I do, I really, really enjoy them. They are usually stuffed with either mushrooms and cabbage or cheese and potatoes. I have a heard time deciding so I chose to stuff mine with all of it. I made wild mushroom, savoy cabbage, onion, potato and cheese perogies and you guys, they were freakin’ delicious.
They were a LOT of work. I was pooped when they were done and I learned I’m not a super-talented perogi maker but in the end what mattered to me was how happy theymade me. This is how I did it:
I washed, scrubbed, peeled and cubed 5 potatoes and boiled them until soft but not mushy in salted water.
While they were cooking I chopped up a pile of mixed wild mushrooms and sautéed them in duck fat till they were nicely browned, seasoned with salt and pepper, then removed them from the pan. I set them aside and diced a few tablespoons of onion, 3 cloves of garlic and a cup of savoy cabbage and sautéed them all in the same pan till the onions and cabbage were starting to caramelize. I tossed in the fresh thyme, chives and parsley and sautéed a few minutes more and added salt and pepper.
I dumped this in with the mushrooms, dumped the cooked potatoes in , added a bunch of shredded cheese and smooshed it all up. Then I added a bit of sour cream, butter and seasoning and kept adding them and mashing till it tasted rich and perfect.
I really could have just eaten this but instead I set it aside to cool completely and started the dough. I didn’t make enough dough to hold all the filling but I was so sick of making perogi by the end that I’m glad I didn’t. I have a container of filling in my freezer for some future project.
For the dough I mixed 1 ½ cups of flour & 1Tsp salt with 2 Tbs sour cream in my stand-mixer. Then I added 2 room temp eggs, waiting till one was completely incorporated before adding the second. Then I drizzled in ½ cup water till it became a nice ball of dough.
I tipped it out on a floured surface and kneaded it, adding flour when it got sticky, for five minutes. When I was done it was mostly smooth but sticky if I poked it with my finger.
I covered it with plastic and let it rest for half an hour.
Then I rolled it out as thinly as I could and cut out circles with a biscuit cutter. I wasn’t sure they were thin enough so I then rolled the circles out even thinner – they kind of lost their circle-ness and several of them stuck together and I had to re-roll them out which made those perogi a bit tough so try to avoid over-working the dough at this point. Less is more in the dough-handling department.
Then I started making the dumplings. I took a skin, placed about a teaspoon full of filling on one side, folded the other side over to form a half-circle and squeezed the sides together to seal. I found that I sometimes had to stretch the dough over the filling a bit but tried not to stretch it too much because I was afraid it would burst open at any weak points once in the boiling water (and I was right.) I have to say that I started off pretty well but my skills seemed to devolve as I got tired/ bored and paid less attention. Some of them were truly deformed looking and they were irregular in both size and shape. I’m pretty good at making food that tastes good but am still working on the old presentation skills.
Anyway, once they were sealed, I used the tines of a fork to crimp the edges closed.
Then I put a large pot of salted water on to boil. When it was boiling away I dropped in about 5 perogi at a time, waited for them to float to the top and then cooked them for about 4 minutes. I fished them out with a skimmer and dropped them into a pan of hot browned butter and sautéed till they were lightly brown on both sides. Then I served them with sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.
Seriously, you guys, these are so decadent. Pillows of dough, potatoes, mushrooms and cheese, dripping in butter and sour cream! Heaven.
Heaven that comes at the price of three hours hard labor and a case of the dairy-sweats that is. I am hoping I get better at forming the perfect little packages with practice but I can’t imagine I’ll be making these very often. These are reserved for special treats.