There was a time in our life when Mrs. T’s Pierogis were a regular staple. Granted, it was when we lived in Boston for a few years – and we were miserable. We lived essentially at Cleveland Circle/Chestnut Hill Reservation at the juncture of Brighton, Allston, and Brookline. We worked at Coolidge Corners (yes, in the kooky clock building), together as professional testing proctors. There weren’t a lot of reasons we were miserable – we met some amazing people that we will know as friends for life (Spencer, Vanessa, Eric, Ben, Marcos & Denise – my dears, I miss you all so much), and had a couple of friends already there (Fisch & Will, Boo & Sayo, & Matty, the former pairs seemingly long lost but we love you bunches, and the latter came to Maine, as well – thank goodness you are here), some family lived near, and our jobs were fine. Not stimulating but fine. We saw shows all the time which was good, we ate and drank in fancy restaurants (or at least fancy to us), we walked around the reservoir, we made art and music in our tiny but lovely apartment.
We also ate and drank way too much (or at least, too much junk food) and though we walked to work, and hiked our groceries back in the granny-cart (uphill), we got fat and frustrated. There was nowhere for us to really grow – the people that weren’t our friends tended to be really rude, and the library was too far away though we do miss some of our favorite haunts (the crepe place below our office, the Brookline Booksmith, Boca Grande, the Thai Noodle place around the corner from us, the fancy pub halfway between home and work, the Pho place in Allston that had a second home in Cambridge, that great little spot for Margaritas on the backside of the Harvard Book Store, Trident Bookstore on Newbury – along with the Fluevog shoe store and Newbury Comics, the Allston Super 88 Asian grocery and the antiques building across from it – these were our regular jaunts around town besides shows at the Middle East/Paradise/Great Scott, etc).
But our favorite activities tended to be things like watching the rainbow of green/brown/purple snails come out in our neighborhood on rock walls and ledges, spying the swans and geese at the reservoir park, punctuated by watching the T (commuter rail) catch on fire one night (the windows melting right onto the tracks), and a few cars that would inevitably miss the carriage road median ending up stuck right on top of it, or the 20-man brawl erupting from the college boy apartment right below us (did I mention we were smack in between Boston University and Boston College?).
All that to say, we were relieved to find an escape route to Portland, Maine for a few years and then farther to our little outpost here at Rock Bottom. We’re happy to grow and support community foods and not eat boxes of frozen foods (when we weren’t galivanting around Boston-town). It’s honestly been years since I have had pierogi (or boxed chicken, for that matter – ahem) but we decided they sounded super exciting and delicious and homey these country snowy days. Jump in, they are easier than you think and oh, so satisfying.
The thing about pierogi is that you have such a great variety of good Winter stuffings to make. Classic mashed potato and caramelized onion/garlic/shallots, or potato and cheese: cheddar/jack/parmesan, or change up the potato adding sweet potato or roasted rutabaga/turnip/parsnip/carrot to the mix, savory herbs are a good match, bits of bacon/pork/sausage/turkey/chicken – ground or shredded, add some spinach or broccoli to the potato mix, or even apple or cabbage to give good texture and flavor. You could even mash or rice roasted cauliflower instead of potato. You could get wild and add mango chutney or green chili to the root mash. I think the key is too not make your filling too wet since you are wrapping it in a lovely pasta moon. Then boil, bake, and fry if desired. Serve with sour cream, red beet relish, horseradish, or even salsa depending on your lovely filling of choice or alongside classics like Polish Kielbasa and sautéed cabbage. Enjoy!
Pierogies for the People
For the dough:
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 cup Whole Milk
2 Eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup Sour Cream
For the filling:
5 large Russet Potatoes peeled and quartered (or other roots, or a mix)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 Tbsp Butter, for Potato mash
1/2 – 1 cup Whole Milk, depending on desired creaminess of potatoes
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
3 Tbsp Butter, for onions
3 large Vidalia Onions diced
1 Tbsp dried herb (Rosemary, Sage, or Thyme)
HOW TO MAKE PIEROGI DOUGH:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, blend together the flour and salt on low speed.
Whisk together the milk, egg and sour cream. Slowly add the milk mixture to the flour in a steady stream.
Continue to blend the flour mixture together until a shaggy dough forms and the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour.
This pierogi dough recipe is soft….the stand mixer makes it come together so quickly but you can totally do this by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer.
HOW TO MAKE PIEROGI FILLING:
Add the potatoes to a pot and fill with water to just cover the potatoes. Stir in the salt and bring the potatoes to a boil.
Turn the heat to low and continue cooking the potatoes until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter for onions in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions to the pan. Cook until caramelized and golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the onions, milk, butter, cheese, and herb to the potatoes. Mash using a potato masher until well blended.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
To assemble pierogis: Knead rested dough lightly (but not too much), roll out to about 1/8″ thickness and cut into 3″ rounds (find a glass or storage bowl to use as cutter for evenness). Scoop 1-2 tbsp scoops of filling and put in center of round. Fold over edges and crimp with fork into hand-pie half moons. Set aside on lightly floured surface until ready to cook (or freeze, see Note below)
To cook your Homemade Potato Pierogi, you have a few options. Put pierogi into a pot of salted boiling water and cook until they float to the top, and then one minute more. Or you can simply pan fry your potato pierogis in a skillet with more caramelized onions (and Red and Green Bell Peppers) and lots of butter. The onion butter is a great sauce for your potato pierogi! OR you can do both….boil then pan fry for crispiness, if desired.
Note: You can also freeze them after assembling but before cooking – put them on a cookie sheet with parchment paper in a single layer and freeze overnight, then put into freezer bags. Do not thaw to cook – either boil as normal or put into skillet with a bit of water to soften and saute in olive oil or butter.