The Radiance of Ukranian cuisine: Pierogi

Pierogi (also called varenyky) stuffed with potatoes and bacon is one of the most iconic Ukrainian recipes, and families have been enjoying this savoury dish for centuries. The dumplings are often mentioned in Ukrainian folklore songs and literature.

Each Ukrainian host has his or her own recipe for pierogis, but the cooking method remains the same: wrapping unleavened dough around the filling. The fillings for pierogis can include almost anything. Besides potatoes, some of the more popular fillings include minced meat, minced beans, cottage cheese, peas, or cabbage. Dessert fillings can include cherries, raspberries, apples, blueberries, or billberries.

Pierogis have always been, and continue to be, an integral part of festive meals at weddings, christenings, feast days, and church holidays in rural Ukraine.

The most important part of the recipe is preparing the dough. Don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out picture-perfect on the first try though – it can take years of practice!

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For Dough

  • High-grade flour: 800-850g
  • Warm Water: 200g
  • Egg: 1 pc.
  • Sunflower oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Salt: to taste

For Stuffing

  • Large potato: 4-5 pcs.
  • Large onion: 1 pc.
  • Ground black pepper: to taste
  • Salt: to taste
  • Bacon: 50-100g
  • Sunflower oil for frying: 200g

To boil perogies

  • 3-4L capacity pot with heavy bottom and lid.

Part 1: Making stuffing of potatoes.

  1.  Finely chop 50-100g of beacon. Fry it in a deep frying-pan on medium heat until lightly brown on top.
  2. Add one large white onion, finely chopped (diced), to the beacon.
  3. Fry beacon with onion until lightly red on the top.
  4. Remove the frying-pan with beacon and onion from fire.
  5. Boil potatoes until it’s completely cooked. Drain water into a sink.
  6. Mash potatoes until smooth (can be grinded with mincing machine or blended).
  7. Add fried beacon and onion to mashed potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Cover the potato stuffing with a lid to keep it warm.

Part 2: Making dough for perogies.

  1. Sieve the flour into a bowl to let the flour breath.
  2. Make a small hollow in the flour and beat in a fresh egg.
  3. Add salt into flour (to taste), add 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, warm water and mix all the ingredients manually in the bowl.
  4. Keep on mixing the dough (for quite a long time: 5-8 minutes) until round lump appears. If the dough is too sticky, dredge it with some flour.
  5. Place the dough on the lightly floured table.
  6. Knead dough until it stops sticking to fingers.

Attention! The dough has to be resilient and elastic.

  1. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, place it back into the bowl and rest 15-20 minutes.
  2. After 15-20 minutes, place the dough back on the table and knead it manually several times again. Flour it if needed.
  3. Roll dough with rolling pin to make it up to 5mm high maximum.
  4. Makes circles out of dough with a glass top. Attention: the diameter of circles can be diverse, depending on perogies size you prefer.
  5. Using a teaspoon put the potato stuffing into the center of each circle.
  6. Making perogies: fold each circle in half, pinching the sides shut with your fingers, but make sure the stuffing doesn’t get to the edges you pinch. Attention: pinch hard to make sure the dough won’t come unstuck while boiling.
  7. Put perogies on a floured board. Make sure the edges or perogies don’t stick to each other.
  8. Put the dough remainders together into one piece again and roll it with rolling pin.
  9. Make circles out of dough with a glass top again, put potato stuffing in, fold in half and pinch the sides shut (as described in steps above).

Part 3: Boil perogies.

  1. Start heating quite a large pot with water. Attention: the larger the pot is, the prettier perogies look after boiling. They won’t get overcooked in a large pot!
  2. Add salt into water. Wait until it starts boiling.
  3. Put perogies (by the piece) into boiling water (not more that 30-35 pieces in a time). Make the heat medium.
  4. Wait until water with perogies starts boiling. While waiting, gently mix the perogies with a spoon 2-3 times.
  5. Water is boiling: gently mix perogies again to make sure they don’t stick to each other. Boil them on medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Attention: one can check if perogies are cooked after they float on surface of boiling water.
  6. Cut off the burner. Carefully, holding the pot with dish-clothes or pot holders, pour out the water with perogies into a strainer.
  7. Let water run-off. While perogies are in the strainer, pour them with cold water once to avoid sticking together.
  8. Put perogies from the strainer into deep bowl. Pour them with butter or sunflower oil. If you pour it with oil, you should add fried onion. Note: you should fry onion before boiling perogies. If perogies remain with no oil for a while, they can stick together.
  9. Throw up perogies in the bowl several times to spread butter or oil with onions. Attention: DO NOT mix cooked perogies with a spoon – they can be damaged.
  10. One can add sour cream to cooked perogies is a separate plate.

Enjoy! Smachnoho!

P.S. Perogies stuffing can be different: minced meat, cottage cheese, potato with mushrooms, minced beans, cabbage. Perogies can be made with fruit stuffing: cherries, raspberries, apples, poppy seeds. One should know recipes of these stuffings. Dough recipe remains the same for all types of perogies.