I’m half-Polish thanks to my mother’s side of the family. My polish grandfather, Henry Tiska, married my Polish grandmother, Anne Zygmont, and thus ensured that my Polish half remained whole. I’m proud of my Polish heritage and feel a kinship with Martha Stewart, mostly because she is also Polish. My mother shares a bit more with Martha, maven of all things home, and is definitely her equal, adept in the craft room, kitchen, or garden. Some of those genes, unfortunately, are a bit lost on me, although I try to make up for my shortcomings in the kitchen every Thanksgiving.
For as long as I can remember, it’s been about the day before the actual Thanksgiving holiday — a day when we gather in my mother’s kitchen for an epic morning making my great-great grandmother’s pierogi recipe — a recipe that has been tweaked and perfected by the women in our family over the years. The dough and filling are made in massive amounts, and the results of our labors shared with family and friends in what has become our traditional meal before the big feast on Thursday.
This year will herald yet another pierogi making adventure. The players change almost every year, but my sister and mother are constants, and this year I know our children will join us and start to create their own memories in the kitchen. First, rolling the dough, cutting perfect dough rounds, spooning the filling into the rounds, pinching the edges of the dough together, boiling the filled pierogies, and finally, tossing them into a frying pan with loads of butter and sautéed onions. Maybe with a little sample before the evening meal.
I’m dreaming of that first bite now.
Pierogies (Polish Dumplings) Recipe
Ingredients for Pierogies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup cold water
1 package farmers’ cheese (or cheddar)
12 small potatoes (cooked and mashed)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, sliced (optional)
Instructions to Make Pierogies
- Mix flour, eggs, sour cream, salt and water in a food processor until soft and pliable. Refrigerate until ready to use, then divide the dough in half and roll out into a thin circle on a lightly floured surface.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cheese, mashed potatoes, salt, and pepper.
- Using a drinking glass or round cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles and fill each one with a tablespoon of filling in center. Fold in half and pinch edges to seal shut.
- Drop the pierogies a few at a time into boiling salted water and cook until the they float to the surface, about 3 – 5 minutes. Remove from the water with slotted spoon and let dry. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Heat plenty of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions (if using) and sauté until golden. Add pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy.