When I was a kid, important celebrations involved perogies.
I can remember on my birthdays, my grandmother would make for me (and the family), perogies and doughnuts (that will be a different post..). Perogies were generally only for “special occasions” as they involved a lot of work for my grandmother. But when it’s your birthday, you get to choose the meal. And I would always choose perogies.
I’ve seen some people claim that they are not hard – specifically with modern technology and food processors -but they do require a certain amount of expertise. Back in the day it was all done by hand and took hours to make perogies for the family.But I digress… my Grandma would pull out her meat grinder and attach it to a table in her basement (not the “good table” in the kitchen). An old wooden kitchen table that she used for these purposes. I can remember helping her grind the ham. Putting the ham and onion into the grinder and turning the handle.. and watching the worm-like ground meat come out into the bowl. I loved doing it.
She would make the dough and I would watch… she’d often give me a bit of dough to more so play with than to “help”. Grandma would make the potato filling and I would be taste tester. That said, I’m reasonably certain that she would have likely made extra filling for tasting purposes….
When my Grandmother came to live with us, she would continue with the perogy and doughnut birthday celebrations. Perogies and doughnuts = birthday love. LOL.
I would watch and “assist” but at that time, didn’t really “learn” anything. My mother did, though. She made perogies with my Grandmother and learned how to make them just as well as my Grandmother. And I learned by watching my mother, more so than my Grandmother.
So flash forward a few years… to a time where I decide to make perogies for my husband and his family. I’m pretty sure this was my first time making them alone, i.e. without my mother. Let’s just say they did not go well.
I made the fillings… all good. Then I made the dough and started to assemble. Rolled it out, cut it out, filled them… annnnnnddd… ran out of dough. Please keep in mind, the recipe above makes 90-100 perogy according to my Grandmother’s calculation (I make larger ones so that there’s less labour time). I made enough dough initially for about half that.. and ran out. Then made more dough.
I cooked the perogies and served them and the dough was….. thick. Tough. Not very good. And I was embarrassed. Everyone was very polite… ate some of the dough and the fillings… however… most of the dough, was…. pretty rock like.
And this is where I express to you how important it is to REALLY roll out the dough. Roll it out a lot (it’s very elastic and therein lies the difficulty)… cut it out, then roll out each piece again before filling… then pinch out sides before folding over so that it doesn’t get too thick. And rock like. But I will tell you this… when I made them most recently, I can safely say they were about as good as my mother’s… or my grandmother’s. Made them for Katy’s birthday and safe to say, they were a hit. Now just have to make for my father to judge them!
- 6 cups of flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
Mix all dough ingredients and knead by hand or machine for 5 minutes until smooth. Cut into four separate pieces and set aside.
Potato – to be truthful, I don’t measure this out at all. My grandmother’s recipe is as follows:
- 4 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
- 1/4 onion
- 4 oz process cheese
- parmesan and cheddar to taste
Boil potatoes and onion – discard onion and mash potatoes. Add cheese and mix and set aside.
I don’t follow this list of ingredients exactly… and that’s based on watching both my grandmother and my mother making perogies (my mom learned from my grandmother, after all…) I make to taste.
I do 4-6 potatoes depending on size and how many people are eating. My grandmother’s recipe said to cook the onion with the potatoes and then discard. I chop about 1/4 – 1/2 an onion – depends on size and kind of onion and how oniony you like things. I tend to use vidalia or sweet onions so hence the 1/2 cup. I chop and then saute in about a tsp or so of butter and mash into potatoes. Then I add grated old cheddar and parmesan to taste… and last time I made filling I added some of the farmer’s cheese that I had made.
I don’t usually have process cheese (okay, sometimes some cheez whiz..) but nearly always have cheddar and I find the cheddar has a better flavour. So I basically wing it and add cheese and salt and pepper etc., until I like how the filling tastes. Start out with the basics and adapt to what you like, as with most cooking. Some people put in garlic, or more onions, etc. Up to you! But DON’T put in butter, milk etc like you would with mashed potatoes – too runny! They should be fairly “stiff”.
- 8 oz cooked ham (I just buy a pre-cooked packaged “dinner ham” and use what I need
- 1 onion
Chop or grind ham with onion and mix. Set aside. <- Grandmother’s recipe. LOL.
How I make the ham filling: I take the ham and onion and grind it up in the food processor. Simple enough. Again, with an amount of onion based on what you like. I put in about the equivalent of a medium cooking onion and I use sweet onion. If you wish, grind onion first, then ham and then combine to taste. Set aside.
Here’s the hard part. Putting them together.
I guess I should really make a video of this as it’s a bit hard to describe… but for now, here ya go.
Roll out a quarter of your dough to about 1/2 cm thickness. Cut out circles of dough with a drinking glass or cookie cutter. I tend to use a large one as then the circle can hold more filling (less assembly time!). Take leftover scrap dough and roll out again and make some more circles. Don’t roll out dough more than twice – the addition of more flour makes the dough tough! Repeat with the other 3 hunks of dough.
Here’s the secret to perogies…. the dough that you are filling needs to be thin (see story above). Therefore, I roll it out, cut out circles and then roll out each circle again before I fill it. I then pinch the edges together and then sort of roll/crimp the edges to seal it to make sure the filling doesn’t fall out.
I usually do all of one filling first and then the other. Potato are easier to fill than ham as the filling sticks together. (Ham falls out a bit sometimes…)
Once I have the perogies filled, I set on tea towels on cookie sheets or counter until ready to cook.
To cook: Boil a large pot of salted water. Once it reaches a steady boil, cook your perogies in batches. Turn down the heat slightly and cook until they float – remove from water and place into a serving bowl with melted butter. If you wish to fry again with onion/bacon, feel free, but for me that’s a “leftover perogy” thing… but your call.
Serve with melted butter and sour cream if you wish… and enjoy!
p.s. Only the potato ones are vegetarian…
*Some notes on perogies… I have seen the word spelled different ways depending on which nationality was using the word. Perogy, Pierogi… either way… deliciousness. On my Grandmother’s recipe the title is “Perogi Virtini”. I have looked up Virtini and cannot find anything…. although I did find Pierogi Virtu… a company in Poland that makes “Russian dumplings”… so no clue. Still delicious.