This recipe for potato-cheese pierogi or pierogi ruskie (pyeh-RROH-ghee RROOSS-kyeh) is from chef Marek (Mark) Widomski, founder and director of the Culinary Institute in Cracow, Poland.
Pierogi ruskie are among the most popular types of Polish dumplings. Contrary to what most people believe, that does not translate to "Russian pierogi." It actually means Ruthenian or Rusyn pierogi.
Ruthenians or Rusyns are also known as Carpatho-Rusyns and consist of the peoples around the northern Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine, eastern Slovakia, and southern Poland. This area also is known as Galicia in English (Galicja in Polish, Halic in Slovak and Halchyna in Ukrainian).
Chef Mark and his staff offer classes in everything from peasant food to gourmet cuisine, tailoring them to the individual's needs, in Polish, English, and other languages. For best results, don't mash the potatoes, use a fork or grinder, according to chef Mark.
If you can't find dry curd cheese, you might want to make your own farmer's cheese from scratch.
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg (room-temperature)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water (lukewarm)
- Potato-Cheese Filling:
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, (scrubbed and boiled in their jackets)
- 2 tablespoons onion sauteed (finely minced and in 1 tablespoon butter)
- 8 ounces dry curd or farmer's cheese (room-temperature; or ricotta)
- Optional: Salt to taste
- Optional: Pepper to taste
- Peel potatoes and fork blend or rice them (do not mash), and mix with sauteed onion and farmer's cheese. For best results, according to chef Mark, some small pieces of whole potato should remain. Season to taste and set aside.
- Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center.
- Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm water at a time.
- Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Divide the dough in half and cover it with a bowl or towel. Let it rest 20 minutes.
- On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly and cut with a 2-inch round or glass.
- Spoon a portion of the filling into the middle of each circle.
- Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, reroll and fill. Repeat with remaining half of dough.
- Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour and place the filled pierogi on it in a single layer. Cover with a tea towel.
- Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi about six at a time. Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more.
- Remove one with a slotted spoon and taste for doneness. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi with a slotted spoon to a serving platter.
- Serve warm with caramelized onions or skwarki (pork cracklings) or fried bacon pieces, and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.