My dad grew up in working class neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Last month, he was talking about how much he missed having chipped ham sandwiches. I went home and discovered that you can order chipped ham and Pierogies – Pittsburgh’s Halftime Gift Box from the from the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. I decided that this would be his Christmas gift. It arrived the week before Christmas. We went over and I made them and they were delicious! I decided to make them myself the next time.
Pierogies are Polish dumplings of unleavened dough – first boiled, then they are baked or fried usually in butter with onions – traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit.
Pierogies are a delicious treat and a Pittsburgh tradition that reflects the city’s multicultural heritage, especially that of the European immigrants of the early 20th century. In Pittsburgh, they eat 11 times the pierogies of any other city in the nation. The Pittsburgh Pirates even hold a pierogi race during the bottom of the 5th inning at every Pirates home game.
Sour cream in the dough is a favorite secret of many Pittsburgh pierogi makers. You can serve it with sautéed mushrooms.
Homemade Pittsburgh Pierogies with Sour Cream
2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream, plus extra to serve with the pierogi
1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
butter and onions for sautéing
ingredients for filling of your choice (potato & cheese filling recipe below)
To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Add the 1/2 cup sour cream and the softened butter pieces and work until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). You can use a food processor with a dough hook for this, but be careful not to over beat. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Each batch of dough makes about 12-15 pierogies, depending on size.
Prepare the Pierogies
Roll the pierogi dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8″ thick. Cut circles of dough (2″ for small pierogies and 3-3 1/2″ for large pierogies) with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.
Boil the perogies a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes). Rinse in cool water and let dry.
Sauté chopped onions in butter in a large pan until onions are soft. Then add pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy. Serve with a side of sour cream for a true Pittsburgh pierogi meal.
If you are having a hard time getting the edges to stick together, you may have too much flour in the dough. Add a little water to help get a good seal.
If you don’t want to cook all of the pierogies right away, you can refrigerate them (uncooked) for several days or freeze them for up to several months.
You can fill pierogies with pretty much anything you want, though potato and cheese is the most common (recipe below).
Potato, Cheese & Onion Filling
5 large red potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbs butter
4-8oz of grated cheddar cheese
Peel and boil potatoes until soft. While the potatoes are boiling, sauté onion in butter until soft and translucent. Mash the potatoes with the sautéed onions and add grated cheddar cheese (depending on how cheesy you want your pierogies), adding salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some fresh parsley, bacon bits, chives, or other enhancements if you desire. Let the potato mixture cool and then form into 1″ balls.