My Polish grandmother taught me how to make these wonderful pillows of pasta filled with mashed potatoes and cheese. I've adapted her recipe slightly over the years to make the dough easier to work with, and I've used different fillings too. These have been a part of every holiday I can ever remember, and I've taught my daughter and her friends to make them now so she they can carry on the tradition. This is a recipe to make with your friends and then share the rewards! —Leith Devine
salt pork, cut into a fine dice
yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Filling: Fry salt pork (cut into fine cubes - your butcher can do this or you could use proscuitto) until crispy. Bacon can be used, but it doesn't taste the same! Boil salted water and add peeled chopped potatoes; cook until soft but not mushy. Drain, and add to large bowl. Mash with butter and milk. Add cream cheese if desired. Stir in drained salt pork and cheddar cheese; mash gently. Don't over mash the potatoes or they will get gluey! Set aside.
Dough: I use my KitchenAid mixer on low, but this can be done by hand. Whisk eggs, then add cream cheese and melted butter. Add baking powder and salt to the flour, then add mixture 1 cup at a time until dough forms a ball. Remove from bowl and knead for a short amount of time, 3-5 minutes. Don't over mix or the dough will become tough.
To make pierogies: Divide dough into thirds; refrigerate 2/3. Flour your rolling surface and your rolling pin. My confession: I use a pasta machine to get the dough flattened! Roll dough until it's approximately 1/4 inch thick. Too thick and they are too doughy. Too thin and the dough won't hold the filling.
Cut the rolled dough into circles using a large glass or a cookie cutter (I have my grandmother's). Hold the dough in the palm of your hand, and scoop approximately 1 tsp of mashed potato filling into the middle. The amount of filling depends on the size of the dough circle. Wet your finger and run it along one side of the one side of the inside of the circle of dough. Fold one edge of dough over to meet the other, and start sealing by pressing together and slightly pinching, like making a pie crust edge. This is very important - a bad seal means the filling will explode into the water during boiling. The finished product looks like a half moon.
Set aside completed raw pierogies on parchment paper until ready to boil. Repeat the process with the additional dough until dough is gone. Prepare a large pot of salted boiling water and gently lower the pierogies in, approximately 8-10 at a time. Boil for 3-5 minutes or until they rise to the top. Drain and set aside in a bowl with melted butter (so they don't stick together).
After all the pierogies are boiled, fry them in a little vegetable oil until browned and crispy. Serve with sour cream, caramelized onions or warmed/fried sauerkraut.
I know it may sound like a lot of steps, but it's so worth it. Get your friends to help you. Double the recipe and freeze half, unboiled. Serve it with fried kielbasa (I like the turkey kind) for my kid's favorite special occasion meal.
Drained sauerkraut may be added for those who like it!
For dessert pierogies, add 1 TB sugar to the dough and fill with drained (not too wet) cherry pie filling. Boil and fry the same way, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Yum!