To accompany my novel in progress: Breaking Bread, welcome to Le Boulangerie!
Week three and I’m already sort of going off script. Pierogi are not baked but they are made of dough so…. And I have a good reason for featuring them this week: Pittsburgh. (And don’t be confused, I am from Philadelphia, not Pittsburgh.) For those of you outside the United States and those who pay zero attention to sports, here’s the connection: I am a Pittsburgh Steelers football fan. (Steelers fan in Eagles territory…) The Steelers are in the playoffs. This Sunday they played and won their game against the Kansas City Chiefs in what can only be described as an ugly win. Nevertheless, the playoffs demand a party and a party demands food and drink.
Any city like Pittsburgh with a vibrant Polish and Eastern European community, will certainly be known for the foods of that ethnic origin–pierogi, for example. Pierogi are pockets of dough filled with a variety of ingredients. A traditional pierogi is most often filled with a combination of potatoes and cheese, potatoes and onions or cabbage. In honor of the Steelers, my friend Alexandra, armed with her Ukrainian grandma’s recipe, agreed to show us how to make pierogi from scratch on Sunday afternoon. I feel an annual tradition starting…
Now, right at the beginning I have to warn you, this was neither quick nor easy but it was so totally worth it. The key to this entire process as you might imagine is the dough:
- 1 cup of whole milk, scalded
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 6 – 7 cups of flour
Scald milk in saucepan. Put butter in hot milk to melt. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Mix water and yeast in a separate bowl. Let rest 5 minutes. Add salt and egg to milk mixture. Combine thoroughly. Gradually add flour in with mixer. As dough thickens, knead by hand instead (or switch to dough hook if using a stand mixer). Cover bowl with cloth and allow dough to rise about an hour.
Then the dough gets rolled out to about an eighth inch thickness and cut into rounds:
When the rounds are ready, it’s time to fill them. Ours were stuffed with mashed Yukon gold potatoes, cheddar cheese, green onion and bacon. Fold the round over the stuffing mixture, seal with egg wash and use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges.
The filled pierogi go into a pot of boiling, salted water for a few minutes and then into a pan for frying in butter to a light golden brown.
And no Ukrainian or Polish meal would be complete without kielbasa, purchased at a butcher shop in northeastern Pennsylvania (coal mining country) another area with a large Eastern European community. We’re calling Pierogi fest 2017 a huge success!
And did I mention the Steelers won? Yeah, that too!