Recipe: Potato and Cheese Pierogi with Kielbasa

So, this post is definitely late in getting here, but in the days after I made the recipe I’m sharing here, I had work, class, more recipes to try, and a long weekend out of town (more on that—in particular, my culinary school visits—later), and thus no time to type it up and post it. But it’s here now—a recipe for some of the most amazing pierogi I’ve ever eaten—and I highly recommend you try it out. It’s worth the work and time it takes to put them together.

Pierogi are a Polish food—semi-circular dumplings (similar to ravioli), traditionally stuffed with potato, ground meat, cheese, or other fillings, that can be boiled, baked, fried, or sauteed (after boiling). Pittsburgh has a strong Polish background and it’s here that I first had pierogi—Mrs. T’s brand from the freezer aisle at Giant Eagle. Since then, I’ve had various types of pierogi at a handful of restaurants in the Pittsburgh area—the best being from The Church Brew Works—but I always get nostalgic when I see a box of Mrs. T’s. The recipe I’m sharing today immediately caught my eye when I saw it online because…well…it’s all homemade and I’d just never really thought about making them from scratch (especially since Mrs. T’s are always so good). I know making pasta can be a chore and even making dough for pizzas or certain baked goods can be a pain in the butt, so I was concerned this could be difficult, but the instructions made it seem very reasonable and I’m so glad I tried it out. The mashed potato filling was soft and buttery, mixed with garlic, thyme, and queso blanco (in place of farmer’s cheese) for a rich flavor. The dough, made with sour cream, flour, and a few other ingredients, was thick but tender and it sauteed beautifully. I made the recommended sauce for the dish, which was so good, I’m tempted to use it for a pasta sauce, and you can find that recipe here.

Yields: About 3 dozen
Prep. and cooking time: 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy-to-moderate
Special equipment: Electric mixer

Ingredients and Directions
For the dough:

  • 3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling and shaping the dough
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. sour cream
  • Approx. 3/4 cup water (add 1/4 cup more if needed)

In a large bowl for a mixer, combine the flour, eggs, sour cream, and about a 1/2 cup of the water. On medium-low to medium speed, beat the mixture in the mixer until blended, adding the remaining water in as you go. The dough will be sticky and thick. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a well-floured surface. Knead it gently (over-kneading will make the dough tough), using the drop technique (pick the dough up off the surface, then drop back onto the surface, turning it over each time you do it). Knead just until the ingredients are well-blended and the dough is smooth and sticky (about 3-5 minutes). Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 20-30 minutes while you prepare the filling.

    For the filling:

    • 1 & 1/2 lb. baking potatoes (about 2 large potatoes), peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
    • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 small onion, chopped (I used a yellow onion, but an sort of sweet onion would work well)
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
    • 1 cup grated dry farmer’s cheese or queso blanco
    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    Put the cut potatoes in a medium pot of cold, salted water (enough to just cover the potatoes) and bring the water to a boil. Cook the potatoes until soft and easily pierced or cut through with a fork or knife (about 20 minutes). While the potatoes are cooking, add the oil and melt the butter in a small or medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, cooking until the onion is slightly soft and translucent (about 3 minutes). Lower the heat just a bit and continue to cook until the onions are slightly caramelized (about 20 minutes). Add more butter if the mixture starts to look dry (be careful not to burn any of the ingredients). Add a little salt and pepper when the mixture is finished cooking, then set aside to cool. When the potatoes are done cooking, drain them return them to the pot they were cooked in, then mash just a little bit to break the potatoes up. Add the onion mixture and cheese to the potatoes and mash them until they are well-blended and no longer lumpy. Season with a little salt and pepper, stir around with a large spoon, and set aside to cool while you roll out the dough.

      For the finished dish:

      • Unsalted butter, for sauteing the boiled pierogi (I just cut off small pats, about 1 tbsp. each, at a time and added more during cooking, as needed)
      • 1 onion, chopped, for sauteing in the butter with the pierogi
      • 1 recipe Sour Cream Garlic Sauce with Chives
      • 1 package kielbasa, prepared according to the included instructions (we boiled ours for a set amount of time, then sliced it into dimes and served)

      Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In the meantime, place the dough on a lightly flour surface. Dust your hands with flour, then pull off tablespoon-sized chunks of dough and roll them into balls about 1-&-1/2 inches round (you’ll get about 3 dozen total). On a well-floured surface, roll out each ball with a rolling pin until about 1/8-inch thick and 3-&-1/2 inches round, then move underneath a piece of plastic wrap or wet paper towels to keep them from drying out. (You can just roll out the whole piece of dough and cut circular pieces out of it, but all of the re-rolling and cutting will make the dough tough—rolling out small balls of dough ensures that each pierogi is tender). Once all of the balls have been rolled out, place about 1 tbsp. of the potato mixture in the center of each pierogi, then fold the dough in half and pinch the edges together, creating a half circle. Drop about 6-9 pierogi in the pot of water you brought to a boil earlier. Once they float to the surface, let them cook for another 2-4 minutes (the dough should be tender, but not chewy, when done). Remove the pierogi with a slotted spoon and allow them to drain on a paper towel. To finish the pierogi, heat a little butter in a medium to large pan over medium heat and sauté with some slices of onion, being sure to turn them over, until both sides are lightly golden-brown and crispy. Serve with slices of the cooked kielbasa and top with the Sour Cream Garlic Sauce with Chives.

        These pierogi are tender and packed with flavor! The creamy potato filling, mixed with garlic, thyme, and cheese, is so soft and light and complimented perfectly by the salty kielbasa and creamy sauce. This is an incredibly filling dish and absolutely perfect for cold weather.

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