Pierogi à la Bière Cuisine

Cooking with Beer by | Jan 2013 | Issue #72

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Pierogies are a Slavic-style dumpling. The simple dough has no yeast and can be complemented with savory or sweet filling. Traditionally, pierogies are served around the holidays; however, they are seen year-round. These bite-sized treats can be enjoyed as an appetizer or a wonderful dessert.

Pierogi Dough
This recipe includes eggs, which give extra strength to the simple dough, making them easier to boil while providing a distinctive bite/texture in the finished product.

Makes: about 6 dozen pierogies

Ingredients:
2 each eggs, large
1/2 cup sour cream, preferably organic
1 tsp salt, kosher
3/4 cup beer, room temperature
3 3/4–4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the finished dough

Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the eggs, sour cream, salt and beer. For the Shepherd’s Pie Pierogi filling, try an Irish Dry Stout; for the Buffalo Chicken Wing Pierogi, use an IPA or Pale Ale; and for the Smoked Kielbasa Potato and Caramelized Onion filling, use a bock, Pilsner or Hefeweizen brew. Mix on low speed until the eggs and sour cream are combined. Slowly add the flour, using 3 3/4 cups to start and adding more if needed. Mix and knead for about 3–4 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl with a light tackiness and smooth look to it, but not too tough. Remove the dough from the bowl, form into a ball, place in a plastic bag, seal and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

To Make the Pierogies:
The filling of choice should already be made and cooled before rolling out the dough. Remove the pierogi dough from the refrigerator and place onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough ball into 4 equal-size wedges. Put 3 wedges back in the bag and into the refrigerator while the first wedge is worked. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out the dough into a large rectangle, a little thinner than 1/8 of an inch. Using an upside-down shaker/pint glass, cut rounds out of the dough, trying to maximize the number of circles cut on one sheet of dough. Remove the extra dough, leaving just the circles to work with, forming the extra dough back into a ball to be rolled out again.

In the center of each cut circle of dough, place about a tablespoon-size mound of filling. Repeat this with the remaining circles. Next, working in groups of three, lightly brush half of the circles’ edges with egg wash (one egg beaten with a little beer or water). Then fold over the un-egg washed side of the dough to meet the egg wash side and squeeze together. Try to minimize the amount of air in the pierogi, encapsulating the filling in the dough circle, now a half moon shape. Crimp the edges or use a fork to press them together on a cutting board. If multiple types of pierogies are to be served at the same time, the different colors of beer will impact the color of the dough, helping to distinguish them while serving. The crimping can also help with this identification of each type of pierogi. Place the freshly shaped pierogi onto a sheet tray. Repeat until all the pierogies are formed.

If the pierogies are not going to be cooked and served within 6 or so hours, it is best to freeze them on a sheet tray, making sure they are not touching. Freeze for 8–24 hours and then transfer the frozen pierogies to a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. Keep frozen until ready to cook.

To Cook Pierogies:
Pierogies can be cooked in a variety of ways depending upon the desired texture and which filling you use. They can simply be boiled, served with a side of sour cream and garnished with some caramelized onions or sautéed mushrooms. They can also be baked or fried and accompanied by a garnish. However, when baking or frying, they are to be boiled first.

  • Boil: Fill a large stock pot or Dutch oven three quarters full of water and add 2–3 tablespoons of salt. Place over high heat, bring to a rolling boil and add about a dozen pierogies at a time. Boil the pierogies until they float to the surface of the water, about 2 minutes, then cook another 2 minutes, with a total cooking time of 4–5 minutes. Using a skimmer or pasta strainer, remove the pierogies from the water and place on a platter to be served (or onto a clean sheet tray lined with a Silpat or parchment paper if they are going to be baked or fried). Garnish and serve.
  • Baked: Preheat an oven to 400°F. Once the pierogies are boiled, arrange the still-hot dumplings in rows so that they do not touch and stick together. Place into the oven and bake until the outside dough turns a golden brown, about 15–20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with your topping of choice.
  • Fried: Have a large skillet filled with just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan by about 1/4 of an inch. I like to use peanut or vegetable oil. Heat the oil to 350°F. Add about 6–10 pierogies at a time using tongs, being careful not to splash the hot oil. Fry each side for 2–3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and repeat, then remove to a paper towel. Place onto plates or a platter and serve hot.
Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Smoked Kielbasa Potato and Caramelized Onion Filling
Traditionally, Polish pierogies are served alongside a smoked kielbasa sausage. This recipe turns that concept into a filling by adding in a smoked Doppelbock, rich and buttery potatoes, sweet onions and a cave-aged cheese, making these pierogies right out of the Old World.

Makes: about 50 pierogies

Ingredients:
1 lb. potatoes, German butterball, washed and quartered
8 oz Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche (Smoked Doppelbock) or other smoked lager
2 cups water, cold, or enough to cover the potatoes
2 tsp kosher salt
8 each garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp rendered fat, such as bacon, duck, pork or chicken (schmaltz)
1 each onion, yellow, peeled and diced
2 each bay leaves, fresh
2/3 lb. kielbasa sausage or other smoked Polish sausage, cut into small cubes
8.9 oz Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche (Smoked Doppelbock) or other smoked lager
1 tsp thyme, dried
2 cups cheese, cave-aged Gruyere, grated fine
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a medium-size pot, add the potatoes, smoked lager, enough cold water to cover them by an inch, salt and garlic cloves. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, creating a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20–25 minutes.

In a sauté pan or skillet, over medium-high heat, add the fat/oil and sauté the onions with the bay leaves until they are caramelized, about 8–10 minutes. Add in the chopped smoked sausage and mix in the onions, cooking until the sausage begins to crisp, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the remaining beer, and add the thyme. Reduce the beer until it has almost evaporated completely. Remove from heat.

When the potatoes are done, strain and cool 5 minutes. Add to the onion/sausage mixture and mash the potatoes, mixing together until the filling is incorporated evenly. Let the filling cool and then fold in the grated cheese. Check the seasoning and fill the pierogies as described above. Serve with a side of sour cream and chopped chives.

Buffalo Chicken Wing Filling
Buffalo chicken wing meets pierogi with this nontraditional combination.

Makes: about 50 pierogies

Ingredients:
1 lb. chicken, thigh, ground
2–3 tbsp Hot Wing Sauce, your favorite brand
1–2 tbsp Sriracha Hot Sauce, more or less depending on your heat level
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp butter or oil, olive or vegetable
1/4 cup Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. Crumbled Blue or Original Blue
2 tbsp Hot Wing Sauce
1 cup sour cream
2 stalks celery, washed and diced

Directions:
In a medium-size bowl, mix together the ground chicken, wing sauce, Sriracha sauce and salt until fully incorporated. Let the mixture sit to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Heat a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter, letting melt. Add the buffalo wing sausage and cook, breaking up any clumps until fully cooked, about 5–7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Stir in the crumbled blue cheese and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Fill the dough rounds with this filling, first boil and then either bake or fry them to get the texture of a chicken wing. The finished pierogi can be tossed in more wing sauce if desired, then garnish with the sour cream mixed with the wing sauce and sprinkle with the diced celery.

Shepherd’s Pie Filling
This shepherd’s pie filling takes the traditional Polish treat to Irish waters.

Makes: about 50 pierogies

Ingredients:
1 lb. potatoes, Yukon gold, washed and quartered
8 oz Murphy’s Irish Stout, or other Irish Dry Stout
2 tsp kosher salt
2 each bay leaves, fresh
1/2 cup water
5 g mushrooms, dried (try porcini or mixed wild)
2 tbsp rendered fat, such as bacon, duck, pork or chicken (schmaltz)
1 each onion, yellow, peeled and diced
1 tsp kosher salt
4 each garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 lb. lamb, ground (or beef, and name it “Cottage Pie Pierogi”)
1 tbsp rosemary, fresh, stems removed and minced
1 tsp thyme, dried
1 each carrot, peeled and grated coarse
8 oz Murphy’s Irish Stout, or other Irish Dry Stout
2 cups cheddar cheese, preferably Irish cheddar, grated
1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
1/2 lb. mushrooms, crimini or button, washed, sliced and fried in oil until brown

Directions:
In a medium-size pot, add the potatoes, Irish Stout, salt and bay leaves. Top with enough cold water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until they are fork tender, about 20–25 minutes.

In a heat-proof measuring cup, add the boiling water and the dried mushrooms. Mix together and cover, letting the mushrooms rehydrate for 20 minutes as the potatoes cook.

In a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat, add the fat or oil, coating the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and salt to the hot pan and sauté until the onions caramelize, about 9 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute, then add the lamb. Using a spoon or spatula, break apart any clumps of meat, stirring to brown evenly. Add in the rosemary and thyme when the lamb starts to break apart into smaller lumps. When the meat is fully cooked, add in the carrots and Stout, scraping any fond from the bottom of the pan. Add in the hydrated mushrooms with the broth/soaking liquid. Reduce the heat to medium low and let the filling cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.

When the potatoes are done, strain them into a colander. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then mash them up back in the pot until smooth. Fold in the cooled lamb mixture and add the remaining cheese. Check the seasoning and cool completely before filling the pierogi. For this pierogi, I suggest boiling them and serving with a garnish of sour cream and some sautéed mushrooms on top.