Hey guys. Ali here!
LISTEN I know the title is actually tear-inducing but trust me you’ll want to stay and read about the three hour endeavor of making home made pierogies for the first time.
Although I mostly identify with my dad’s Italian lineage, my sister Gabby and I grew up with our mom peppering us with Polish foods and northern-european cuisine. By far our favorite dish was pierogies sautéed in butter and caramelized onions – even now, I get hungry thinking about them. However, despite her strive for authenticity, she only ever had the time and patience to grace Gabby and me with –gasp- frozen, store bought pierogies.
A couple weeks ago, Chris and I were lounging on his living room couch playing some ridiculously tedious video game (it’s Stardew Valley. We love it. No shame) around lunch time. We hadn’t done anything all day so we decided we were gonna make a real meal for lunch instead of dumping Kraft mac n’ cheese in a pot and melting further into the couch cushions. My ever-nostalgic ass decided that we should make pierogies. From scratch.
It looked easy at first, trust me. We found a recipe on Pinterest, Potato and Cheese Pierogies, that didn’t look too intimidating and went to work. The clock read 1pm.
The dough was easy enough, and super fun for me to combine since I can’t keep my hands off ANYTHING when I’m cooking. It turned out way breadier than I thought it was supposed to be, but what do I know? REMINDER: frozen. pierogies. I worked it and covered it while Chris boiled the potatoes for the filling.
While the potatoes were boiling, Chris drowned some sliced onions in olive oil and I worked on browning them in a pan. How the hell do cooked onions always smell so good? What gave them the right? Seriously. The smell took over the kitchen like a smog, weighing heavily on our shoulders – and empty stomachs.
Once the potatoes were tender, we mashed them in a bowl and mixed in the mustard, cheese, sour cream, butter, and onions. The recipe instructed us to add salt and pepper to taste, but it didn’t need anything. If you think it needs more salt or seasoning, I would recommend just adding more mustard. At this point, we were so hungry, we almost ate the filling straight from the bowl. I’m not gonna lie, I definitely had a few forkfuls. The clock reads 1:45pm.
I took the dough out of the bowl and went to work on rolling it out. The recipe said to roll it out until it was 1/8th of an inch thick, but hear me out. We were hungry. It was 2pm. And we didn’t feel like trying to find a ruler. So, we rolled it out as thin as we could while still being able to work it (if you over floured the dough, it wouldn’t stick to itself and you couldn’t seal the filling in), we used the top of a glass to trace out the hundred or so circles that would be our pierogi casing.
Then began the seriously absurd task of filling and closing each individual pierogi. After about my 10th (Chris was on his 5th), I started to get into a sort of rhythm, and my pierogies even started to look like pierogies. Chris, as skilled as he is, had some trouble keeping the filling in the dough while he closed it, and most of his pierogies looked like pale slugs.
Still,we were so hungry (clock read 3pm) that it didn’t matter what the little fuckers looked like. We just wanted to EAT.
In order to really seal the dough, we boiled the raw pierogies for about 5 minutes before frying them up in loads of butter. While I finished forming the pierogies, Chris took the ones we’d already made and started dropping about 15 at a time in our boiling water. When they started floating, he’d move them over to a huge pan and crisp them all up. I couldn’t see much of what went on over there, but judging from the sizzle and occasional pops I heard, it went well. We didn’t pan fry all of them – only about 20 or so, just enough to gorge ourselves on cheese and potatoes so much that by the end, we probably resembled pierogies more than Chris’ misshaped ones did.
In the end, it was about quarter to 4pm until Chris and I actually sat down, dipped our first pierogi in sour cream, and enjoyed our first bite. We had so many leftovers, we gave big freezer bags to my parents and his, while still having enough to eat ourselves into a dual food coma. Yes, it was time consuming (leave it to me to not realize how tedious stuffing individual pierogies with home made filling is), but it was fun, it was delicious, and now we know how to do it. I can’t tell you how excited my mom was when I brought home the bag full of manual labor and told her I knew how to make pierogies. She was ecstatic, and promptly shoved my bag of polish authenticity – you guessed it – into the freezer.
We probably should have just had the Kraft.