Believe it or not, the first time I ever had pierogis was when I tried making them from scratch. The first recipe I found had said to boil them and maneuver the dough in silly ways. After much trial and error (and delicious experimentation), I have perfected my recipe for potato pierogis. I hope you find this recipe easy to follow and encouraging to try making pierogis from scratch in your own kitchen.
Just add a little bit of cheese and you’ve got yourself a picture of the filling. While the filling is essentially mashed potatoes, I like to enhance the potato flavor by incorporating sautéed garlic and onion. Since I prefer for the potato to be the star of the show, I dice two small cloves (or one big clove) of garlic and about a 1/4 cup of onion. It’s important of the size of the garlic and onion chunks to be virtually undetectable in the potato mixture so I take my time when dicing them. I make the thinnest slices as I can before I cut in the opposite direction, creating the thinest small pieces.
The secret to cooking potatoes quickly? Chop them into small pieces. It seems like a no brainer, but when I would try to speed along the cooking process by cranking the heat. Doing that causes the potatoes to cook unevenly so it’s not a good idea.
For the filling, you want to peel and then quarter each potato. Cut each quarter into about 1/2 inch pieces, place into a pot and cover with cold water. It’s important for the water to be cold because it will ensure that the potatoes will cook evenly throughout the process. The potatoes are done when a fork can easily slide in and out of a piece – I like to check a few pieces, just to be sure.
The four things you see above are the ingredients that make up the dough. Crazy simple, right? I know. It’s actually five ingredients because water also gets used, but I take it straight from the tap when I need to use it. When making the dough, crack the egg in a separate bowl and beat the egg with a whisk or fork before adding it to the flour. Also, when adding the sour cream premeasure the 1/4 cup in a measuring cup and use a spoon to distribute the sour cream in the bowl. Doing both of those things will help both ingredients distribute more evenly throughout the dough. I end up mixing the dough with my hands because I can more clearly feel if a particular ingredients isn’t evenly distributed. Once the dough comes together, it’s important to let it rest for at least 10 minutes. I usually wait until the potatoes come to a boil before I touch it again.
Once the potatoes come to a boil, I roll out the dough. Before you remove the dough from the bowl it’s been sitting in, flour the counter surface you will be working on. I roll out the dough until it’s about as thick as two quarters stacked on top of each other, if not a little thinner. Once I do that, I take a metal measuring cup and press it into the dough. If you have a 3 1/2 – 4 in round cookie cutter, that would work just as well. I set the cut dough aside on a cookie sheet and then ball the remaining dough up and repeat the process. I can typically repeat this process 2-3 more times.
By this time, the potatoes are usually cooked so I finish them off. I mash them so there are no visible potato chunks and add the sautéed garlic and onions, a tablespoon of milk and two tablespoons of butter. I set them aside and stir in about 1/2 cup of shredded colby jack cheese and transfer the potatoes to a plastic bowl to cool down.
This is also when I will begin heating the oil for frying for pierogis. I will typically start heating the pot of oil on medium heat once the potatoes come off the heat.
Now comes the fun part, making the pierogis into their iconic shape. I take one circle of dough and stretch it like pizza makers stretch pizza dough on TV, only not quite as dramatic. I use my thumbs to stretch the edges of the dough. This increases the surface area that you’re working with and makes room for maximum potato filling. There is some variation in size, but the stretched dough circles should be at least 4 inches in diameter. The amount of filling will vary accordingly and lingers around 1 tbsp of potato.
Then fold the dough together so it’s like a taco (or half-moon shape) and all edges touch. Use a fork to crimp the edges together – doing so seals the pierogi filling inside. I set the filled pierogis on a baking sheet and continue with the rest of the dough.
I fry the pierogis in batches of two or three (depending on size) and flip them after about four minutes. You know the oil is hot enough when big bubbles appear around each pierogi after a few seconds. Once the pierogi dough is golden brown, remove it and place it on a cooling rack lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. That’s it!
It’s certainly a labor of love every time I make a batch of these pierogis and they are absolutely worth the wait. Let me know if you try this recipe or have a pierogi recipe of your own. I’m interested in trying to make pierogis stuffed with mushrooms, so I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
2 large russet potatoes
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 small cloves (1 large clove) of garlic, diced
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 – 2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup shredding colby jack cheese
Pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup water
- Place peeled, chopped potatoes in a pot and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are fork tender.
- While potatoes cook, heat olive oil in a small pan on medium-low heat. Add diced onion and garlic and cook until garlic is just turning golden brown.
- Once potatoes are cooked, drain them and place them back in the pot. Mash them until no potato chunks remain and add sautéed onion and garlic, butter, milk and pepper.
- Transfer potatoes to a plastic bowl, mix in colby jack cheese and set aside to cool.
- Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Mix in the sour cream, beaten egg and water.
- Dump out dough onto a floured surface and knead until dough forms a smooth ball. Cover the dough with a clean towel or over-turned bowl and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Pour vegetable oil into a large pot so the bottom is covered with about an inch of oil. Heat the oil on medium-low heat.
- Roll out dough onto a floured surface so it is approximately as thick as two stacked quarters (~1/6 of an inch). Cut 3-4 inch circles out of the dough using a cookie cutter, metal 1-cup measuring cup or a glass.
- Combine excess dough and repeat step 3 until no more circles can be cut.
- Gently stretch the edges of each dough circle so it is about 4 inches in diameter.
- Fill each circle with about one tablespoon of potato filling. Fold the dough into a half circle, like a taco, and press a fork along the edges to crimp them shut.
- Once all pierogis have been filled and the oil is hot enough, fry pierogis in batches of 2-3 depending on size. The oil is hot enough when large bubbles form around the edges of the pierogi after a few seconds in the oil.
- Flip the pierogis after about 4 minutes and remove from the oil once both side are golden brown. Placed fried pierogis on a cooling rack lined with paper towels.
Voila! Have you ever made pierogis? What is your favorite kind?