So, it turns out that a Pierogi doesn't have to be Potato and Cheese. Who would have thought? Ok, just about everyone in the whole world except us it seems... Sorry!
We've had ok success with our own Raviolis in the past so weren't too daunted by the skills that are needed and the dough at first look seems just like what we used on our Raviolis. We were ready to make non-Potato and Cheese Pierogis...
We thought it would be worth picking up one of those folder gadgets pictured in the instructions because we could probably get away with using it for our occasional bouts of Ravioli creating too. However, couldn't find one for our first attempt. We tried all the kitchen type stores close by. We cast a slightly wider net before starting our second batch but still couldn't find one, so all our Pierogis were of the hand sealed variety.
We've made pastas and breads so we're quite ok watching the dough go through the various stages of ugliness it takes until it finally looks like dough. We put in a little less than the recommended amount of water with just 2 cups of flour and found it very sticky so by the end we probably had the full 2½ cups suggested.
A nice easy dough to work with and roll out. We just have to work on our consistency of thickness. We found it much harder to roll out a second time after collecting all the off cuts - not super hard, just harder than the first time.
Russian Style Pierogi
The mixture is easy enough to put together. The hardest part was probably deciding how much extra bacon we wanted to go with...
It's suggested to serve them with Creme Fraiche or fried. We actually forgot to pick up some Creme Fraiche so we tried a couple from our first batch just plain and a couple fried. Fried easily one this battle because we used the same pan with the left over drippings from cooking off the bacon. Even without the bacon drippings it probably wasn't fair to compare with out the Creme Fraiche. Because the bacon drippings worked out so well, for our second batch we used some of our left over duck fat from the Paté Challenge.
Not having the folder gadget was not a hindrance at all. A hand fold and crimp with a fork (lightly floured helps) took just a second and worked quite well - only 2 'explosions' of the most minor type out of our complete batch.
Tasty! And filling.
Our first roll out of the dough was almost perfect, apart from a corner where we hadn't floured the bench enough and we lost one to stickiness. Oh well. Our second roll we didn't do quite as well - no sticking, but as we started folding we noticed they were a bit thicker and seeing we'd already cut and 'stuffed' we just left them. It's unlikely we'd have noticed the difference if we didn't know they were different...
We made a lot of stuffing. The one batch of dough turned in to Pierogis was enough of a meal, but we could have easily made 2 batches and probably close to 3 if we were really really hungry. Not a bad thing at all, but we didn't make up more Pierogis, just used it as a special lunch.
If you don't have duck fat, make sure you fry in your left over bacon drippings. The duck fat was better to us, but it was a close vote.
Meat and Cabbage
Seeing that 'meat' leaves things wide open, we went with some ground turkey we had tucked away. The only tweak to the recipe was adding some sage in which we always add in when making turkey burgers. Putting it together was easy enough.
We still had some duck fat left over... We liked the fried ones from our first batch so just went all fried, all the time. We didn't even try look for Creme Fraiche.
Again, too much filling. Tasty, just lots of it. We only lightly cooked off the cabbage so it still had a bit of crunch which we liked.
No dramas rolling out the dough this time. Practice makes perfect?
One of us really doesn't enjoy beans much at all. 'Tolerate in an emergency' is probably the best description. Even though this wasn't an emergency we're here to try new things so Soy Beans it was.
We weren't really sure what 'minced' beans meant so we tossed them in the mini food processor (you know, the one that you jam your stick blender into), hit go and stopped somewhere around half way to mush. No idea if our interpretation was correct, but even the one of us who'd rather something else could deal with the texture as well as the flavor.
Yep, we still had some duck fat left...
Again, too much filling. But not nearly as much as in our previous two efforts. Surprisingly tasty - quite simple flavors really, but just fine for a meal.
Practice makes perfect? Dough rolling was just fine.
We didn't make one. We're not particularly inventive and couldn't get past the thought of trying to stuff a Chicago Style Hot Dog or a Deep Dish Pizza (which for the record is collectively the worst pizza every invented!) into a Pierogi. We'll leave the creating to those out there that are creative! We enjoyed what we made and really could only go down hill from there...
Recipes & Destructions Instructions
It seems that Pierogis are quite filling because the amount of filling we created was mostly based off of portions we would use for a 'normal' meal. With each batch we got a little bit better at filling and sealing them up (remember, couldn't find the handy dandy gadget?).
We ordered in the other night from the local Chinese. Our order included Pot-stickers. We believe that Pierogis (especially when fried) are related to Pot-stickers. We acknowledge the fillings were vastly different, as was the dough, but the texture and goodness was just about equal.
We were just cooking for the two of us and it wasn't painful to put them together. We're just not sure we'd be patient enough to be able to put together a batch big enough for a family or group meal. Although if we didn't fry the cooking part would be much quicker.
One of us went with the Potato as the favorite (hopefully that's not because we thought all Pierogis were potato) with the other first place vote going to the Meat (Turkey). But, we did enjoy all of our 3 batches. We probably won't be rushing to whip up another batch (one day they'll appear on our weekly menu again, we just have no idea when that day might be), but it's definitely good to have a new understanding of what might live inside a Pierogi and how easy they are to make.