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Pierogies

Can anyone weigh in on the pierogie recipe I made last night from Anna Thomas's New Vegetarian Epicure? My expectations for these pierogies were based on the countless pierogies I've had in my life--the kind that are boiled then fried in butter then served with sour cream. The recipe in NVE is based on a very short pastry (4 oz butter and 4 oz cream cheese to 1.5 cups of flour--at least that's what I think the ratio was) that puffs dramatically in the oven (yes, these are baked, not boiled).

They were delicious, although I'll use more salt next time, but not what I think of as pierogies. Has anyone encountered this type before? are they more akin to a Russian piroshki?

Any help on the ethno-history of these flaky turnover-type pastries would be appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. My family background is not from a pierogi culture but I have eaten them since childhood. I have never seen a baked pierogi before and have never seen a recipe for one before. My old copy (1968) of The Art of Polishh Cooking by Alina Zeranska only has recipes for boiled pierogis whether sweet or savoury. I think if it is baked it is not a pierogi but something else like a piroshki

    1. I did grow up in a pierogi culture and I've never heard of a baked one either. My grandmother would roll in her grave.

      I'm not gonna argue that they were good but it doesn't sound like a pierogi to me.

      I also shudder at the thought of vegetarian pierogies. We use diced salt pork in all our fillings and fry them up in rendered salt pork fat. Not butter. Mmmmmmmm

      DT

      2 Replies
      1. re: Davwud

        I've never had them with meat, but my husband and kids would love a version with salt pork. How strange that vegetarian peirogies are the exception for you...I lived with my Polish grandmother and great aunt growing up (Bushy and Cioci). In our house, pierogies were always a friday staple during lent when we couldn't eat meat. They were filled with either potato and cheese or potato and cabbage (or sauerkraut depending on the family). They were boiled, then fried with butter and onions.

        I checked a book I have called "Treasured Polish Recipes" by the Polanie club (a polish women's organization), and I found a pierogie variation with a yeast dough called 'Pierogi na Drozdzach z Roznemi Farszami' which is stuffed with your favorite filling and baked in the oven.

        I love how something so traditional to a cuisine, like pierogie can still vary so greatly from family to family...I wish I had my grandmother's recipe to pass on to my kids.

        1. re: bacchus

          We make three kinds. Potato (No cheese) and cabbage (Not kraut) both with "Squatkas" or diced salt pork mixed in with the filling. It's hard to call it meat since it's pure fat. Not an ounce of lean to be found. We also make cottage cheese. All are boiled and then tossed in the rendered pork fat. They're then fried before eating. We garnish them with sour cream.

          Incidentally, my grandmother was from Ukrane and it was her recipe.

          DT

      2. I have never heard of baking a pierogi. There are almost always boiled and then sautéed in browned butter, but I have seen them deep fried, but the results weren't good.

        The pierogis that I learned how to make were filled with either kraut, mashed potatoes, cheese and occasionally bits of sausage. There are many more possibilities, but those are the most common in my family.

        1. Pirohi (Carpatho-Russian, Ukrainian) are made from, basically, a noodle dough. Send Anna a note and ask her what she is basing her recipe on. The baking prep certainly sounds like Russian pirozhki.

          1. My family are Wysockis, so I had my share of pierogies and galumpkis and punczkis, and I had never heard of baking one either. I thought maybe this was a regional variation. I did send her a note asking about the recipe, and I'd be really interested in hearing about it. I definitely wouldn't call it a pierogie, based on my understanding of that dumpling, but it was certainly tasty. The filling was pierogie-like, for sure.

            The dough was very impressive though, and I think I might use it for a Thanksgiving apple pie. It was very, very flaky--almost like puff pastry--and brushed with egg yolk, they were shiny and elegant looking. And I mixed it up in my blender, so was REALLY amazed at the results.

            4 Replies
            1. re: rcsimm

              Please post if you get a response. What did Anna recommend as fillings? We have her original Vegetarian Epicure cookbook. Almost sounds like an empanada. Did you pinch the dough on the edges to secure the filling?

              1. re: rcsimm

                Can you give me the recipe? Thanks

                1. re: rcsimm

                  I had this cookbook at one point...while the dish may have been very tasty, it's not a book I would look to for any kind of authenticity. She was probably just making her own veggie version of a pierogi, just like some cookbooks make very bastardized versions of Italian dishes, Mexican dishes, etc (vegetarian cookbooks are especially prone to making very, ummm, "different" versions of classics). Again it doesn't mean they aren't tasty, but I can't imagine she's claiming to be making an authentic version of the dish, unless she explicitly says something like, "this is a lesser known type of pierogi I had in X region of Poland..."

                  1. re: christy319

                    Actually, she responded to my email query and agreed that the version in her book is probably more akin to piroshki than the unleavened pierogies we're all familiar with. (although, Bacchus and rworange point out in this thread that baked pierogies are a known variant in Poland. Also, Anna was born to Polish parents, so she probably has some frame of reference for this recipe.)

                    I've never had a pierogi stuffed with meat, by the way. And the version that appears in her book is in no way a healthful alternative to noodle-dough pierogies. So this isn't a case of someone taking a recipe like, say Bigos stew, and reinventing it for vegetarians.