Potato Cheddar Pierogi
This pierogi is my childhood. My baba made these for my sister and I every Sunday, and sometimes days in between those yummy Sundays. The potato pierogi is often referred to as the pierogi ruskie, and hails
from the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe.
The Carpatho-Rusyns lived for almost 1,000 years in Austria-Hungary. This present-day region is divided between eastern Slovakia, southern Poland, Transcarpathia in western Ukraine, northern Hungary, and northern Romania.
The second largest settlement of Carpatho-Rusyns in the world is located in the United States, especially in western Pennsylvania. Rusyn immigrants brought their delicious recipes with them as they dispersed
throughout the industrial towns of the U.S. looking for work.
Our Ukrainian grandparents settled in northeast Ohio, and our baba’s pierogi ruskie were so delicious, they’re the inspiration on which this business is based. Our baba would mix boiled potatoes with farmer’s cheese and some onion. When she couldn’t find farmer’s cheese, she used cottage cheese instead. Our dad did not enjoy cottage cheese in his pierogi, and suggested that she use cheddar cheese instead. This is the way we continue to prepare our pierogi today. They’re still pierogi ruskie, but with an American twist.
5 large Idaho baking potatoes
1 1⁄2 c shredded cheddar cheese
3 tbl salted butter
1⁄2 c chopped onion
2 1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp black pepper
3c unbleached all-purpose flour + more for dusting
3⁄4 c milk
3⁄4 c water
1 tsp salt
Dough recipe will yield approximately 30 pierogi. Filling will likely yield more than 30 pierogi, depending on size of potatoes. Make and cool the filling before mixing the dough.
Filling: Peel and cut potatoes into large chucks. Place potatoes in stock pot and just cover with water. Boil potatoes until they are tender when pricked with a fork. Drain potatoes in colander.
While potatoes are boiling, melt butter in skillet; add onions, and sauté onions until caramelized. Add the boiled- then-drained potatoes, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, salt, and pepper to a mixing bowl and blend/mix well with potato masher, hand mixer, or stand mixer. Let cool before filling.
Dough: place flour in large bowl, and make a well in the middle of the flour. Add milk, water, and salt to the middle of the well, and start to combine all ingredients. Continue to mix, and then knead the dough until very smooth and elastic. This can be done in a stand mixer. Place dough on floured surface, and cover with a damp cloth to prevent drying. Additional flour may need to be added if dough is too sticky. Additional water may need to be added if the dough isn’t coming together.
Rolling & Pressing Pierogi: Cut dough ball in half, and on a floured surface, roll out dough until it’s 1⁄4” thick. Make sure there is plenty of flour under the dough. Take an inverted coffee cup and cut out rounds of dough until all that remain are scraps of surrounding dough. Form scraps into a ball and let rest under damp cloth. Using a teaspoon, scoop filling and place in the middle of each dough round. Fold dough over filling so that edges of the dough rounds meet. Seal edges with your fingers, and place sealed pierogi on a baking sheet lined with a towel. Continue to roll out dough and cut rounds until little dough remains.
Cooking Pierogi: While making pierogi, place a large stock pot on the stove filled 3⁄4 of the way with water, and heat until water is just about to boil. Place pressed pierogi into water and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes. Remove pierogi carefully from water with slotted spoon or into a colander. Coat pierogi in butter to prevent sticking.
Serving Tip: after pierogi are boiled, they can be finished off by sautéing in butter for several minutes on each side. Serve with additional caramelized onions and butter on top, and sour cream on the side.