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.




2 to 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
up to 1 cup lukewarm water (you will probably use all of this if you're using whole wheat flour…if not, then only use enough to make the dough come together)


Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time. Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You’re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.

twice baked potato filling


4 medium potatoes
3/5 cup cheese grated
6 pieces crispy bacon
salt/pepper to taste


Clean, dice and boil your potatoes until fork soft. Drain water and mash it up. Add in your cheese and bacon and continue mixing and mashing. If you have butter or milk (I had none on hand) you can add a little in. Its fine without too.

Set aside.

chicken basil pesto filling


1 chicken breast, cubed
olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
1 sprig fresh rosemary

pesto ingredients

1 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
salt/pepper to taste
(nuts + parmesan cheese are usually in pesto. I had none, but feel free to add it in)


Sauté your chicken in a little olive oil with the rosemary, salt and pepper until done.

In a food processor, place all ingredients and whiz until combined.

In a bowl, mix together your chicken and pesto. Set aside.

sweet potato filling


1 large sweet potato
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash of cayenne


Pre-heat oven to 375º.

Scrub potato and poke several times with a fork. Place in the oven with a pan on the shelf below to catch drippings. Bake for 45 mins - 1 hour until soft.

Once done, carefully peel off the skin. In a bowl, mash it up along with all of the spices. Taste to make sure its to your liking. Set aside.


On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8”) cut with a 2-inch round or glass (I used the lid of a mason jar). Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Using a fork, crimp the edges down to complete the seal. You do not want ANY of the filling sticking out or else you will have a huge mess while cooking. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Its best to do one kind of filling at a time. Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more (usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.

Serve immediately or sauté in a pan with a little olive oil to crisp them up. Cold pierogi can be fried.

To freeze, you can either boil them al dente or just stick them straight in the freezer once assembled. I laid them all out on a cookie sheet and let them freeze a few hours before bagging them up. When ready to eat, place straight from freezer into boiling pot of salted water and cook until done. Don't unfreeze before boiling or there will be a mess of dough.


  1. The sweet potato filling sounds delicious. I love how they all got mixed up, and you'd never know which one you were going to eat. I never even thought of using a Mason jar lid to cut them out - that's brilliant!

  2. Yum! All of your fillings look delicious but my favorite would have to be the chicken basil pesto! Great idea to make them whole wheat too :)