Aug 14, 2010

{daring cooks: pierogi}

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.

One of my good friends has been raving about how awesome pierogi are ever since I met her and introduced her to climbing. It seemed like after each climb night she said she was going home to eat pierogi. She was astonished that I had never heard of them or had them before and stated that she had to make them for me. Sadly, I moved before we could set that up so, you can imagine how happy and excited I was to see this months challenge. Finally, I'd get to have pierogi! (kface I've been dying to tell you that it was this months challenge!)

So, what is a pierogi? It is basically a dumpling filled with deliciousness. For the challenge, we had to make the dough and filling from scratch. Pierogi can be either savory or sweet so I chose to lean more to the savory side of things for John's sake. LizG provided a few recipes but said that we should adjust our fillings to include something that represented where we are from. So, my fillings ended up being: twice baked potato, chicken basil pesto and sweet potato. I did manage to sneak in a little sweetness on the last one, but still served it as part of our dinner, not dessert. After all, sweet potato soufflé is usually served as one of the many sides my family consumes during the holidays, even though its sweet enough to be a dessert. I chose these because here in North Carolina, sweet potatoes are a big agriculture product, chicken (which is usually fried in the south) is loved down here, and well, potatoes are just good.

I made a few adjustments to the recipes provided based on what I had on hand and what I could get locally. For the dough, all-purpose is called for but I got away with using whole wheat pastry flour and it came out just fine. I did a double batch of the dough recipe since I wanted to try several different fillings and still had filling left over! Thankfully, this dish is easily frozen and we now have a few bags of pierogi awaiting a night I don't feel like cooking.

In filling them, I found that the potato versions were very easy to do. The chicken version however liked to poke through the dough and cause problems so just a note if you choose to make these with some sort of solid filling. I'd just roll your dough a little thicker to protect it.

Since the recipe made so many, it took a while to fill them all up. I ended up filling what we were eating that night and cooking those first. While they were boiling, I worked on filling the rest. It takes a little time, but for the amount you get, its worth it.

I tried to keep all of the varieties separate from each other so I'd know what I was serving, but after the boiling step they got all mixed together. After boiling them I popped them in a little olive oil and sauteed them up to brown them a bit. This also warmed the ones that had boiled first. I had no sour cream or any idea of what kind of sauce to put them in so we enjoyed these plain. They were delicious! It was kind of like a treasure hunt since we didn't know what we were going to be biting into. John's favorites ended up being the twice baked potato and chicken basil pesto versions. I loved them all.

See more pics and the recipe after the jump. See what other Daring Cooks did here.