Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pierogi, pierogi, pierogi!

Our goal this year is to make one item in bulk each month to stock up and build diversity in our freezer. This month, I decided to try pierogis. This was partly inspired by a bookmarked recipe I've been meaning to try for a while, but even more inspired by the fact that pierogis are cheap as all get-out to make. The main ingredients, after all, are all-purpose flour and potatoes.

I had never made them before, so I did use a little sense and make one test batch a couple of weeks ago. That turned out well, so I thought “Hey, I should make FOUR batches at once and freeze them!” Turns out one batch is quite a bit easier than four, even without cooking them. A little logic probably could have told me that, had I chosen to use it. Where's the fun in logic, though?

All four fillings lined up and ready to go
I used the recipe from For my test batch, I only made the cheese filling, mostly because I didn't have the ingredients for the green onion oil filling. This time around, I decided to make four different fillings: cheddar, green onion oil, bacon/cheddar, and spinach/bacon/pepperjack.

I had to make some adjustments for specific items the recipe called for, which I dind't have. For example, I don't have a 2.5” biscuit cutter. I do, however have a wine glass that's almost exactly 2.5” in diameter, so that's what I used. Classy all the way, that's me!

The dough is soft and slightly sticky. It's also stretchy, which is helpful because it didn't fold easily around the filling – the edges didn't quite meet, so I had to stretch the dough a bit to make it work. (Rolling it more thinly and using a larger cutter might have also worked, but this was easy enough for the most part). I found that I had to maximize the number of circles I could cut out on each roll, because re-rolling the dough made it significantly tougher, so getting a good wrap and seal became more difficult.

The recipe also calls for a small cookie scoop to measure out the potato filling. I don't own a cookie scoop (and if I did, I'd have a large scoop because when it comes to cookies, size matters!) A little research revealed that a small scoop is the equivalent of about two teaspoons. I measured out about that much and just used that as a guide for how big to make all the filling balls. It worked decently, although by the end, they edged up in size as I was more and more eager to just be DONE already.It helps to have the potato mixture fully cool before you roll it, too, to minimize the amount of potato that sticks to your hands.

Rolling the balls by hand wasn't hard, but having the scoop would have made it quicker and easier – if I find more recipes that call for a cookie scoop, I will probably invest in one - like I need a reason to get more kitchen stuff! It's not really necessary, but – especially for recipes that make 100+ of something – a scoop would cut down on the time investment some. Spending less time on something is always better!

Most of a batch of cheddar filling
With a single batch, I was able to get all the potatoes peeled and on the stove while my Kitchenaid kneaded the dough. Even with cooking and assembling the filling, I plenty of time to sit and relax while the dough raised. With four batches...not so much. I spent the entire one hour rise time peeling, cutting, boiling, mashing, mixing, and rolling the potato filling. Then I had to cut the dough and assemble the pierogis. The moral of the story: don't make a quadruple batch of these bad boys unless you have a helper!

They're nice and bite-sized
The process is fairly simple – make the dough, mash some potatoes with various added ingredients, then wrap the dough around the filling. Even with four different fillings, the process wasn't hard, just time consuming. The overall process took around two hours, although it would have gone more quickly if I had recruited Randy to help from the beginning, rather than thinking “this isn't hard, I'll breeze right through it!”

When all the pierogis were assembled, I layered them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and put them in the chest freezer to flash freeze (which surprisingly doesn't mean “quick freeze”; it just means they freeze spread out so they stay separate when you put them in a larger bag. Go figure.) for a couple of hours. Honestly, they could have used more time in the freezer but a) I'm impatient and b) I didn't want to forget about them and leave them in there for days on end to get freezer burned.

I made packs of 10 pierogis (four is a nice size for a side dish) and put them in ziplocs. I would have used my food saver, but they weren't fully frozen yet, so I was concerned about squashing them. Now I'm out of ziplocs (each batch makes around 50 pierogis) but my freezer is looking better.

Dough Recipe
3 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
1 cup water
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt 

Put flour in a large shallow bowl and make a well in centre. Add water, egg, oil, yeast, and salt to well and carefully beat together with a fork without incorporating flour*. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating flour, until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with flour as needed to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes (dough will be very soft). Invert a bowl over dough and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

*Or, do what I did and just dump it all in the Kitchenaid with the dough hook and let the machine do all the work.

While the dough rises, make the potato filling.  Once the dough is risen,  roll out 1 half (keep remaining half under inverted bowl) on lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 15-inch round (1/8 inch thick), then cut out 24 rounds with lightly floured cutter.  Cut out a 2.5”-3.5” circle of dough and wrap around the filling (if you cut the dough larger, roll it thinner. This is essential both to have enough dough to use all the filling and to prevent the final pierogi from being too doughy.

Filling recipes:
Cheddar filling
4 medium potatoes
6-8 oz grated cheddar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1” squares. Boil until fork-tender, then mash and set aside to cool for 15 minutes or so. Add remaining ingredients to the cooled mashed potatoes and mix well

Green onion oil filling  (from the same website as the dough)
4 medium potatoes
1/2 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced (about 3/4 to 1 cup)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 small knob of ginger, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1” squares. Boil until fork-tender, then mash and set aside to cool for 15 minutes or so.
Heat the canola oil in a small pot over high heat. When the oil is shimmery and hot, add the green onions, garlic, shallot, and ginger. Be careful, the water content will cause the oil to bubble. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Salt to taste.

Bacon/cheddar filling
4 medium potatoes
4 oz grated cheddar
2 slices bacon*
1 T bacon grease
½ tsp garlic powder
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1” squares. Boil until fork-tender, then mash and set aside to cool for 15 minutes or so.
Finely dice the bacon and cook until crispy. Drain, reserving about 1 T of the grease. Mix all ingredients, including grease, into cooled mashed potatoes. Salt to taste.
*this was not actually as bacon-y as I had hoped. Next time, I'll use three or four pieces of bacon instead of just two. Two was an attempt to be moderate. Silly me.

Spinach/bacon/pepperjack filling
4 medium potatoes
4 oz grated pepperjack
2 slices bacon
1 T bacon grease
½ box of chopped spinach, drained

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1” squares. Boil until fork-tender, then mash and set aside to cool for 15 minutes or so.
Finely dice the bacon and cook until crispy. Drain, reserving about 1 T of the grease. Squeeze as much liquid from the spinach as possible. Mix all the ingredients into cooled mashed potatoes.

Just get them a nice golden brown
To cook the pierogis, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pierogis for five minutes after they start to float. Remove from water and drain, then fry in olive oil or butter for 3 minutes or so on each side. This should give it a nice crisp crust. The texture of these is great – crisp outer layer, with a chewy dough and soft filling.

A batch makes 48-50 pierogis; if you're cooking an entire recipe, batches of 12 seem to work out the best – it leaves room for them to move around in the pot and have some room between them in the frying pan. Also, it lets you assemble the next batch while the first one is cooking.

Next month's stock-up recipe: Egg rolls!

This post is linked to Made From Scratch Mondays at The Daily Dish


  1. You're not cheap, you're pierogi!

  2. What are the calories for these bad boys?

    1. D'oh! I meant to put that in. According to LiveStrong, they're about 50 calories each, at least for the plain cheddar. I'm guessing the others even out to about the same, since they have less cheese (the spinach might even be a bit less).

      If you use butter to fry them, that'll add a bit more (I calculated based on using olive oil).

  3. Ach, one more question (and, may I say, this comment function is really time-comsuming!)>

    Do you cook them frozen or thawed?

    1. That is an EXCELLENT question. So far, I've only cooked them fresh. Tonight, I'm going to try cooking them frozen. I figure they're like frozen raviolis, and since the boiling time starts from when they start to float anyway, it should work out well. I'll report back when I have my results :)

    2. They cook perfectly from frozen - just start the five minute timer from when they start to float, as if cooking from fresh.

      I do wish I had left them in the freezer longer so they wouldn't have stuck together as much when I packaged them, though. Still working on the whole patience thing.

  4. Replies
    1. They are really tasty - the day after I made the first batch, I had a lunch of pierogis. Dipped in a little hot sauce (because everything seems to be better with hot sauce), they're a little bite of heaven.