Meet Pierogies, Poland’s Answer To Dumplings
- Shireen Jamooji
Updated : August 21, 2022 02:08 IST
Practicality meets flavour in this beloved national dish.
No matter where you go in this big wide world you only have one guarantee. That somewhere, not too far away, there’s a dumpling. Every culture has its take on dumplings but the concept itself remains the same. Some form of dough with a filling that is subsequently steamed or fried. The sound logic behind this phenomenon is that historically, meat was hard to come by and by mixing it with vegetables and other bulking ingredients and then encasing it in cheap but filling dough, meat could be stretched much further.
Polish Pierogies are the perfect example of this and are so beloved in their home country that they were named the national dish. There have been indicators of their existence since the 13th century but the first official mention was in a 17th-century cookbook which suggested a pierogi filled with chopped kidneys, veal fat, greens and nutmeg. As with all dumplings, they can be filled with almost anything but traditionally they contain mashed potatoes, cheese, sauerkraut, cabbage, mushrooms, spinach, ground beef, and sometimes even grains.
The origin of the dish is contested, with Poland, Romania, Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Slovakia all claiming ownership of the dish. Some also believe that it’s the product of Marco Polo’s expedition to China and the influences he carried back. One of the most famous legends around their origin includes Saint Hyacinth, the patron saint of Pierogies patron saint. It’s said he got his name after he advised the citizens of a small village to pray for deliverance during a hailstorm, and the next day their lands and crops were thriving and the grateful villagers made him pierogies as thanks. and The next day the crops flourished, and the villagers served him pierogi made from the crops as a symbol of their gratitude.
It’s also a popular Christmas dish, and on that occasion, they’re stuffed with Sauerkraut, cabbage, and mushroom by the Catholic church’s rule of abstinence the day before Christmas. The Pierogi has a long history and is thriving again now among Polish communities the world over.
- For the Dough
- 2 ½ kgs of flour
- 4 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 cup of hot water
For The Cheesy Potato Filling
- 1 large potato, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ½ onion, diced
- 60 gms shredded cheese, (cheddar works well)
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Heat to boiling and simmer until potatoes are very tender.
- Drain potatoes, reserving 1 cup of the liquid.
- In a small, non-stick frying pan, saute onions in a little butter or oil until soft.
- Add onions to drained potatoes and mash using a potato masher or electric hand mixer.
- (Add reserved potato cooking water as needed to reach a smooth mashed potato consistency.)
- Add cheese, garlic, and salt. Mix well.
- Set filling aside to cool.
- Mix all the dough ingredients in a giant bowl using a wooden spoon (you can use your hands, but it will be hot because of the hot water).
- Once it's all mixed, then use your hands to knead the dough. The dough should be soft and elastic.
- Wrap your dough in aluminium foil and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- Split the dough into 3 pieces to make things easier, then roll it out thinly on the board and cut out circles (either with a pierogi maker or simply a glass)
- Stuff with the desired filling and fold your pierogi in half glueing the sides together with your fingers. If it doesn't stick properly you can use some water.
- Boil your pierogi for about 3/4 minutes since they surface to the top of your water level.