Nov 9, 2009

Roasted Garlic Pierogi w/ Shallot-Browned Butter

What do you get when you add a free night with your husband, a few rum and cokes, and about 6 cups of flour? In my case, nearly fifty pierogies.

And oh, little pierogies, how I love each and every one of you. For those who’ve never had a one, I offer my sincerest sympathy. You’ve been seriously deprived. Pierogies are incredibly addictive Polish dumplings filled with either mashed potato, cheese, sauerkraut, or meat. I highly recommend all variations, although I’ve always had a special place in my heart for potato. (Note: If you go for the meat, never ask a Polish waitress what kind of meat it is, or you’ll be met with a death stare and a stern, “It’s. Meat.”, which translates to, “You are clearly not Polish, and do not deserve my food.”)

I had my first pierogi back in middle school while staying over at a girlfriend’s house. Her Czechoslovakian mother made them from scratch with rosemary dipping sauce. I thought they were a little odd, like potato-stuffed ravioli, yet somehow extremely habit forming. Every time I went back, I’d nonchalantly bring them up in hopes of an encore. But no such luck. I didn’t taste pierogies again until high school when Mrs. T’s frozen variety hit the grocer. My mom brought home a box and topped them with spaghetti sauce. Not quite right, but I was intrigued enough to continue experimenting with them throughout college.

Then I met Luke, his Polish family, and finally, a real pierogi, which I know now means it's made lovingly by hardworking, Polish hands, boiled then slightly pan fried in butter, topped with bacon crumbles, and served with sour cream. Instead of attempting to describe the taste, I’ll just advise you to please, go find a good Polish restaurant and give them a try. Just say, “Pierogi, prosze?”, which means, “Pierogi, please?” I’ve asked my mother-in-law this on several occasions, and it has a 100% probability of making pierogies miraculously appear in your lap within minutes. And if you're lucky, alongside a piece of kielbasa.

Since my epiphany, I’ve always wanted to make my own pierogies. I attempted once, with my Polish roommate in Chicago. But there was no recipe, all the ingredients were in Polish, and she didn’t have the patience to hold my hand through the steps, so I didn’t retain much of the experience.

So. After a long weekend of cleaning, organizing, shopping, working, and playing catch up in every other way from our trip up north, I thought, hmm…let’s stay up all night and make Polish staples from scratch! And not only that, let’s double the recipe so we have a bunch to freeze! But I’m glad I we did. It turned out to be a great time, and this is how it all went down.

The first step in making any polish meal, according to my husband, is to pour a drink. Hence, the rum and cokes. Yummy. The first step according to the cookbook, is to bake the potatoes and roast the garlic, so I peeled away the garlic’s papery skin (two heads worth – I doubled the recipe), covered them in olive oil, wrapped them in foil, and stuck them on a baking sheet along with pierced baking potatoes.



An hour later, the entire apartment smelled like garlic bread and my mouth was already watering. After letting them cool, I squeezed the cloves to extract the pulp. Of course I couldn’t resist a taste or two, and was met with this amazing, creamy, garlicky, buttery taste. I could have eaten it with a spoon. But for the love of pierogies, I resisted and instead mashed it with the potato, sour cream, salt and pepper.



Next was the dough. Yogurt, salt, egg, and...six cups of flour. But once I’d gotten to three, I could already see the bottom of the canister, so I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I blame it on the raspberry strippers, which I had to make twice, and also on Kroger, for selling me a bag of unusable flour a couple weeks ago full of bugs. How gross is that? So, what’s a girl to do in the middle of the night when she needs flour? Ask the neighbors, of course. Well, have her husband ask the neighbors. But no one responded to Luke’s late night knocks, so he was off to the store.

When he returned, flour in hand, the fun really began. I kneaded the dough, broke it in half again and again until we had 48 equal portions, and then we rolled each into a small ball. It was fun, like Play Doh for adults. Then we formed a pierogi assembly line. Luke flattened the balls into circles, and I spooned in the potato mixture, folded over the dough, and pinched the edges.  A little time consuming, so we were at this for awhile. I ran out of potato about 12 pierogies too soon, so I whipped up a quick concoction of mozzarella, feta, plain yogurt, and Italian spices, thinking it may taste something like a ravioli. (And it did, by the way. Pretty good.)






Next, I boiled the pierogies in turns, and set them aside to start on the shallot-browned butter. I found it so weird that in just minutes, a stick of golden butter can turn into a dark, glassy liquid without burning the slightest. After ten minutes, I added the shallots and the butter went crazy, lifting into a frothy, brown puff. It smelled amazing as is simmered. I then tossed in the pierogies in turns for a minute or so, letting them soak up that wonderful buttery-shallot flavor.







And then, finally, at 11:30 p.m., we sat down and ate. And ate. And ate. And…ate. pierogies are just one of those things you can’t and won’t stop eating for anything, accept maybe a breath of air, and I even try to limit that as much as possible.

They were deliciously perfect. Creamy garlic potato on the inside, buttery on the outside. (By the way, browned butter is to die for.) Maybe not the lightest meal in the Cooking Light cookbook, but a great treat. Luke said they were some of the best pierogies he’s ever eaten. And because he’s grown up on the real thing, I’ll take that to heart.

Roasted Garlic Pierogi with Shallot-Browned Butter
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 4 pierogi)

Cookbook note: Pierogi are Polish dumplings that have long been a delicatessen treat. Unfortunately, they often contain lots of cream or chicken fat to help make the potato filling creamy. Starchy russets, however, break down and provide a creaminess that allows you to forego the fat.


1  pound  baking potatoes
1  small whole garlic head
1  teaspoon  olive oil
1/4  cup  fat-free sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1/2  cup  plain fat-free yogurt
1/2  teaspoon  salt
2  large eggs
3  cups  all-purpose flour
12  cups  water

Browned butter:
4  tablespoons  butter
2/3  cup  finely chopped shallots

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare filling, pierce the potatoes with a fork; place potatoes on a baking sheet. Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate cloves). Drizzle garlic head with oil, and wrap in foil. Place garlic on baking sheet. Bake potato and garlic at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool slightly. Peel potatoes; discard skins. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Separate garlic cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Add garlic to potatoes, and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Set aside.

To prepare dough, combine the yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and eggs in a large bowl. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour to yogurt mixture; stir well to combine. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth. Divide dough into 24 equal portions, shaping each into a ball. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each ball into a 3 1/2-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon filling onto half of each circle. Fold dough over filling; press edges together to seal. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and filling.

Bring 12 cups water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add half of pierogi; cook 6 minutes or until tender. Remove pierogi with a slotted spoon; place in a colander. Repeat procedure with the remaining pierogi.

To prepare the browned butter while pierogi cook, melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; cook 10 minutes or until lightly browned (be careful not to burn). Add shallots; cook 1 minute. Add pierogi; cook 2 minutes, tossing to coat.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 435 (23% from fat), Fat: 10.9g (sat 5.5g,mono 3.4g,poly 0.9g), Protein: 12.2g, Carbohydrate: 72.1g, Fiber: 3.1g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Iron: 3.8mg, Sodium: 516mg, Calcium: 80mg. Source: Cooking Light Cookbook, 2004.


Kaitlin said...

These look amazing! I love pierogies, they are scrumptious. Love your blog girl!

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