Poland

Pierogi Ruskie: Potato-Cheese Pierogi

Potato pierogi, or pierogi ruskie (pyeh-RROH-ghee RROOSS-kyeh), are among the most popular types of Polish dumplings. A traditional Polish dish that is found in several variations, such as sweet and savory, these dumplings are a staple of Eastern European cuisine and are a type of comfort food that all households hold dear. Despite what the name sounds like, pierogi ruskie doesn't translate to "Russian pierogi," rather referring to the Ruthenians or Rusyns, the people from around the northern Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine, eastern Slovakia, and southern Poland.

The dumplings can take on many fillings, but potatoes are the most traditional. They can be boiled or pan-fried—or if you have an air-frier they can be cooked there, too—and make an excellent appetizer, light lunch, or dinner. Boiled or fried is simply a matter of personal preference. Boiled pierogi are softer, more like ravioli, while pan-fried have a crispy exterior, similar to pan-fried dumplings.

Traditionally served with sour cream, onions, and bits of crispy bacon, pierogi are surprisingly easy to assemble and can be frozen for later use.

For best results, don't mash the potatoes. Instead, use a fork, food mill, or ricer. For the cheese, if finding dry curd cheese is difficult, go with farmer's cheese or drained ricotta. 

Ingredients

For the Potatoes:

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the Filling:

  • 8 ounces farmer's cheese, or dry curd, or ricotta; room temperature

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 2 tablespoons onion, finely minced

  • Kosher salt to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the Dough:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 large egg, room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups water, lukewarm

For Serving:

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter

  • Optional: 

    Caramelized onions

  • Optional: 

    Skwarki or fried bacon 

  • Optional: 

    Sour cream

Steps to Make It

Make the Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Parboil the potatoes in a large saucepan by covering them with cold water, and adding 1 tablespoon of salt.

  3. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain and let cool slightly.

  4. While the potatoes are parboiling, place the butter in a small pan, add the onions, and sauté over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

  5. Peel the cooked potatoes, place them in a large bowl, and mash them with a fork or potato ricer.

  6. Add the farmer's cheese and sautéed onion to the potatoes and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place 2 cups of flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center.

  3. Break the egg into it, then add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of lukewarm water, a little at a time.

  4. Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding the remaining flour or water as needed to form a smooth dough ball.

  5. Divide the dough in half and cover it with a bowl or towel. Let it rest 20 minutes.

Assemble and Cook the Pierogi

  1. Assemble the pierogi on a floured work surface by rolling out the dough to 1/8-inch in thickness. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter or drinking glass, make small circles.

  2. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons of the filling onto the middle of each circle.

  3. Fold the dough in half to form a half-circle shape and then firmly pinch the edges together.

  4. Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour and place the filled pierogi on it in a single layer. Keep the formed pierogi under a clean kitchen towel to stop them from drying.

  5. Gather scraps, re-roll, and fill until you've used all of the first half of the dough. Repeat the process with the remaining half of dough.

  6. Cook the pierogi by bringing a large, low saucepan of salted water to a rapid boil. Depending on the size of your pot, drop in about 6 to 10 pierogi at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. Return the water to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few more minutes. It should take around 5 to 6 minutes for the pierogi to be cooked.

  7. With a slotted spoon taste test one and if done remove the remaining pierogi to a serving platter greased with some of the butter for serving. This will prevent the pierogi from sticking to each other.

  8. Serve warm with caramelized onions, skwarki, or crispy bits of bacon and a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!

How to Pan-Fry or Air-Fry Pierogi

To pan-fry fresh pierogi you don't necessarily need to boil them first. This is a matter of personal choice:

  • If you want softer pierogi, boil, drain, and dry them.

  • Heat up a large skillet and add plenty of butter or a thin layer of oil.

  • Once hot, add the pierogi without overcrowding the pan and fry until crispy.

  • For fresh non-boiled pierogi, simply place them in the hot pan with butter or oil and fry until crispy, turning constantly.

To air-fry the pierogi, be mindful that not all friers work alike and this is an estimate of the time for using an average small appliance:

  • Preheat your air-fryer to 400 F for a few minutes.

  • Grease the basket with olive oil.

  • Place the pierogi and air-fry for 5 to 6 minutes. Check and shake the basket to turn them.

  • Air-fry for another 6 minutes.

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