Saturday, November 08, 2008


Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Pierogis make a delicious inexpensive meal. For those of you who don’t know, they are like an eastern European empanadita, or like a boiled-then-fried ravioli. Serve them with some Kasha or a bowl of hearty soup and you will have a great lunch or dinner. Here is the recipe of my friend Cole Chabon, who worked at the Warsaw Café in Philadelphia for many years.

Ingredients for dough
3 1/2 cups A.P. flour
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup water, more as needed

Procedure for dough
In a large bowl, combine flour, eggs, sour cream, and half of the water. Stir, beating the eggs as you mix. Gradually add the rest of the water, stirring till the mixture comes together. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently with your fingertips lifting the dough and dropping it down (the dropping is key to making a pliable dough). Take care not to overwork the dough. Knead till dough is smooth on the outside and slightly sticky when poked, about 2 to 5 minutes. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic, and let rest for 20 minutes while preparing the filling.

Ingredients for filling
3 medium baking potatoes (about 1 1/2 lb.), peeled and cut in 1-inch slices
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, more as needed
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage (about 1/4 of a very small head of cabbage)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano
1 tsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Procedure for filling
Put the potatoes in a pot with just enough cold salted water to cover them and boil until soft, 15 to 20 min. Meanwhile, melt the butter with the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage starts to soften and brown at the edges, about 8 minutes. Lower the heat and continue cooking until the cabbage and onion are nicely browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. You may need to add 1 Tbs. or more of additional butter, as the mixture will absorb quite a bit of fat. Set aside to cool.
When the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander and press lightly with a dry kitchen towel to dry them thoroughly. Return the potatoes to their hot pot and shake them dry. Remove the pot from the heat; add the cooled cabbage mixture, the cheese, and the parsley. Mash the ingredients until they're well blended and there are no more potato lumps; you may want to use a stiff whisk. Season again with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool while you roll out the pierogi dough.

Procedure to assemble
Fill a pot with water and bring to the boil. With floured hands, pinch off 1 1/2 inch balls of dough. This recipe will make 36 to 40 balls of dough. On a well-floured surface, gently roll each ball into a 3 1/2 inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Keep dough balls covered as you work so they don’t dry out. Hold dough in your hand, brush off excess flour and add 1 generous tablespoon of filling to the center of the circle. Fold in half and pinch dough together to seal, then do it again to be sure it's sealed.
Set on floured work surface and keep going. When water is boiling, drop pierogis in the water in small batches, stirring occasionally. When they float to the top, cook for 2 to 4 minutes more. To check for doneness try one. There should be no chalky line in them. After boiling and straining, it’s best to sauté them in some butter over medium heat till they get golden brown and a little puffy. Serve with salt and pepper, sour cream, chopped chives, and some caramelized onions. This is just one kind of pierogi. You can also try meat-filled, cabbage-filled, or even apricot-filled!