Crispy Tangy Pierogies

The pierogie (sometimes spelled pirogi) is a type of dumpling common to eastern European cuisine that can be filled with a fascinatingly wide variety of fillings. In today's post, I'm going to talk briefly about this highly flexible and interesting food, and then I'll share an unusual and easy preparation method for pierogies that give them a sharp and tangy flavor that I'm sure you and your family will love.

Let me also say what today's post is not--it's not a recipe for making pierogies from scratch. While it can be fun to make pierogie dough and filling and put together these delicious dumplings, it's a labor-intensive process that doesn't scale well. Thus thus it's the kind of cooking we typically try and avoid here at Casual Kitchen. However, for those of you who are interested, I've prepared a list of some excellent pierogie-making recipe sites below.

Instead, we usually buy them pre-made, either at our grocery store or at our local Polish ethnic food shop. Pierogies freeze very well, so we often keep a stash of them in our freezer for those nights when we need to throw together an easy meal.

Finally, let me make a few quick comments on the amazing flexibility of the simple pierogie. You can eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner--even dessert, as you'll see in a moment. They can have traditional fillings like mashed potatoes, meats, or cheeses, or they can have more creative fillings, like mushrooms, cabbage, sauerkraut, or any combination of whatever vegetables or greens you have fresh on hand.

Pierogies can even have surprisingly unusual fillings, like fresh seasonal fruits or other sweet dessert fillings. In fact, the single greatest pierogie I ever had in my life was one filled with fresh blueberries at Damis Restaurant in the Polish neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Today's pierogie preparation method won't mesh particularly well with a fruit-filled or dessert-style pierogie, but it will really jazz up the simple and traditional "meat-and-potatoes" type pierogie. Try it and see what you think!
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Crispy Tangy Pierogies

1) Boil frozen or fresh pierogies as directed. Drain well.
2) While pierogies are draining, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat in a large non-stick pan. Add pierogies to pan. Make sure each pierogie has room to lay on its side--if there are more pierogies than will fit in this way in your pan, cook them in batches.
3) Brown and crisp the pierogies on each side (roughly 4-5 minutes per side on medium heat).
4) Then, turn the burner up to high, wait 1-2 minutes, and then add 1/2 cup of vinegar along with about 1/4 cup of water. Let the pierogies simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until the liquid is nearly boiled away.

Serve immediately!

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Three brief recipe notes:

1) Remember our post on using local ethnic food stores to save money on spices? Well, if you are lucky enough to have a Polish food shop near you, here's an excellent additional excuse to visit it. You'll likely find delicious home-made pierogies there at great prices.

2) This meal is an example of a limping dinner, a laughably easy and often laughably cheap meal made with staple foods that are easy to keep around the house. Pierogies can be easily frozen and stored for those inevitable days when you don't have the strength or the ambition to whip up a complicated dinner.

3) Finally, a question for readers: some pierogie variations work really well, but some just don't work at all (after all, the freedom in any highly flexible dish is also a liability: you can always take things too far). What kinds of pierogie fillings are your personal favorites, and what kinds of pierogie variations have you tried that simply didn't work?

Pierogie Recipe Sites:
1) Pierogie Recipe at Epicurious
2) Potato-Jalapeno Pierogies at My Food Blog
3) Quick Potato Pierogi at Smitten Kitchen
4) Ezycook's Pierogie Recipe
5) Potato and Cream Cheese Pierogies at Allrecipes
6) Pierogies with Potatoes, Cabbage, Cheese and Leeks at Cooks.com
7) Wikihow's Pierogie recipes (includes recipes for potato/cheese and mushroom fillings)

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Austrian Cuisine: Viennese Potato Soup
Navy Bean and Kielbasa Soup

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2 comments:

Amanda said...

Yes! I do love pierogi. I made them homemade only once, when I was a new bride in the early-90s--and you're right, they ARE incredibly labor intensive. I remember they were delicious, but no more so than the store-bought variety. We have always fried them in butter. Mmm, butter.

Daniel Koontz said...

LOL--yep the one concession we tried to make to health was to use olive oil, but yeah, there IS something about butter... :)

Thanks for your comment Amanda!

DK