This is a recipe for my favourite, savoury, curd cheese pierogi, but I am offering some alternative filling ideas, to get you started. In Poland, the fillings often depend on the time of year – sweet, fruit-filled pierogi are popular in the summer, while wild mushrooms rule in the wintertime. There are also various ways of making the dough, yet I find this recipe (from Polska cookbook) to be the best all-rounder.
Pierogi are the most famous Polish dumplings. The filling combinations are endless and you can use any leftovers, too.
- 300 g (10½ oz/ 2½ cups) plain flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 1½ tbsp (30 ml) melted butter
- Large pinch of salt
- 100 ml warm water (from a previously boiled kettle)
- One batch of filling, from those below
Savoury curd cheese filling
- 2 onions
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 150 g twaróg (see Note) or any other curd cheese
- 1 large potato, peeled and cooked
- Salt and pepper to taste
- crispy fried onions, to serve
Sweet curd cheese filling
- 200 g twaróg (see Note) or any other curd cheese
- 1 egg yolk
- ⅓ cup golden caster sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 50 g raisins, soaked in apple juice for 20 minutes
- soured cream or any other cream, toasted nuts and seeds, honey or maple syrup, to serve
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1½ tbsp (30 ml) salted butter
- 150 g mushrooms (a mixture of varieties works best)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 20 minutes
1. For the dough, in a large bowl, combine the flour with the egg yolks, melted butter, salt and enough of the warm water to bring the mixture together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead the mixture until smooth. Ten minutes should suffice. Place the dough ball back in your bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 20-25 minutes.
Make one of the fillings below.
2. To make the savoury cheese filling, fry the onions in the butter. Dice the cooked potato. Mash the curd cheese with a fork. Combine the curd cheese with half of the fried onions and the diced potato. Season well.
3. To make sweet curd cheese filling, mash the curd cheese with a fork, then add the yolk and sugar and continue to mash until thoroughly combined. Add the cinnamon and raisins and stir well. You could replace the raisins with prunes or apricots or even a few fresh strawberries (in which case no soaking required). You would then blitz it all in a food processor rather than mashing with a fork.
4. To make mushroom filling, fry the onions in half of the butter on a frying pan until golden, remove from pan and set aside. Fry the mushrooms in about 3 batches, adding a bit of butter for each new batch and making sure they have enough room on the pan to brown. Allow the mushrooms to cool slightly before transferring to a food processor. Add half of the fried onion to the mushrooms. (You can also add other ingredients at this point – for example, fresh herbs, some leftover cooked spinach, mashed potato or lentils.) Blitz the mushrooms and onion to a rough paste. Season well with salt and pepper. The remainder of the fried onion is for the topping, to be used as in the original recipe.
5. Roll your dough out very thinly on a floured surface, then cut circles out of it (I often use a glass for this). Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle and seal the edges well, pressing down hard with your thumb and forefinger to make a frilly edge and a half-moon shape. You can have some water on standby if the dough should get a bit dry or your hands are a bit cold.
6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Place the pierogi in the bubbling water in batches of 7 or 8. When they float to the top, give them 3-4 more minutes then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
7. If making savoury cheese pierogi, transfer them to the frying pan with the crispy fried onion in it and fry for a moment before serving (this works for all savoury pierogi).
• Twaróg is a Polish white cow's milk cheese. Substitute other farmer's cheese or a firmer-style quark cheese.