I grew up, like many American kids of the 80s, on boiled Mrs. T's potato and cheese pierogis. I have fond memories of tossing boxes from the frozen food aisle into the grocery cart in middle school. And I liked them. Then, a couple of months ago, during our annual Slow Food DC board holiday dinner at Boundary Road, my tastebuds were rocked by the real thing. (Or at least what I imagine being the real thing, having not ventured to Poland. Yet.) Light, buttery, rich pierogis that melt in your mouth. Oh god, they were good. I've been obsessed with the idea of making them ever since.
I'd considered making some for my birthday dinner in late December, but then got distracted preparing tajines and curries and ran out of time. I'd contemplated making them with more daring gentlemen sous chefs (I mean, er, dates) in January and February, but, well, it seemed extreme for someone who was just starting to know me to be subjected to 3+ hours of solid cooking and my friendly but firm reminders of "Don't overknead the dough!" So when my dear and daring foodie friend Kathryn suggested we get together to cook yesterday, I knew exactly what we were going to make.
Initially we were going to simply have different fillings, but after some online research we couldn't decide which dough recipe to try... so of course we decided on 3 different doughs, each with a different filling. (Don't you lecture me about the Scientific Method! I know!!) We figured that if one of them resulted in total, inedible disaster, at least one of the others would turn out, right? And if all of them failed, well, we still had a nice growler of Hellbender scotch ale and things to nibble on.
We started with what appeared to be the simplest dough, and the most traditional filling:
As the dough rested, I riced some of our boiled potatoes before stirring in some mashed celeriac and sauteed cabbage, along with the not-at-all-Polish addition of garlic for the second filling. Then it was time to boil some sweet potatoes to mash, before stirring in freshly grated nutmeg and slices of quick-seared guanciale for our third filling:
Oh, the guanciale? Don't worry, there is going to be a whole post soon about this much-anticipated first attempt at curing meat sourced from Farmer Bev over at Eco-Friendly Foods. For now, I hope you're content with knowing that the public debut of the cured pork face was delicious and that nobody got food poisoning. Meanwhile, here's Kathryn working her magic on doughs 2 and 3:
In the blink of three hours, we were ready to start cooking our homemade pierogis!
Luckily Kathryn's husband showed up just in time to help finish filling the final dozen pierogis, and taste test our final product, washed down with ample ale. (Yes, yes, I know, it would have been more authentic to sip on potato vodka, but I'm using all of mine in the current batch of limoncello.)
Delicious. Thanks, Kathryn and Chris, for participating in this cooking adventure! And for those of you who want to try making your own, I recommend dough #1 or 2 from this site, and fill them with whatever your heart desires. (Mine desires more guanciale.) Don't worry, mom and dad, I saved a few of each in the freezer for the next time I see you. :)