I’ve calculated the numbers folks, added them up and divided. The ratios are in for the number of sweet things I made for consumption versus the savory—eight to one. A little skewed perhaps but if you ate at my house you’d understand why. There’s no point in me making savory items when my mom is around.
So here it is, the savory item of July—potatoes pierogi. The pierogi is a delicious and heady thing. A rich and flavorful mashed potato filled with caramelized onion, gruyere cheese, and mustard encased in a chewy but not rubbery sour cream-egg dough that has been boiled until soft and then pan fried in either butter—or bacon fat, my English grandmother would be proud—to produced a dark golden sear that’s crispy and delicious. Yes, it’s fried carbs, but when you take a bite, it doesn’t even matter.
Hey, there’s fresh parsley sprinkled on it. Parsley is green.
One might ask, why pierogi? True, I live in California and yes, yes it is the middle of July. But I’ve found that pierogi are not restricted to a specific in the way that slightly weaker foods like, say, beef stews or fresh cherry pies are. A bite of pierogi on a July morning or evening tastes just as good as it does in December.
I confess, I had no idea what a pierogi was until about a year ago. And it was not a restaurant, a dining hall, or a wandering and wise Polish grandmother that introduced me. Actually it was a group of very good-looking and well-dressed Upper East side (and Brooklyn) teens that showed me the way. Yes, it was on Gossip Girl that I first learned of pierogies. And I have no shame. Not only can they dress well, but also now I know that they eat well. No shame.
Grant Achatz recipe calls for pan-frying the pierogi in butter, but we had some leftover bacon fat from breakfast and… it’s worth it. You’re frying them up anyways, might as well use the best fat lying around. If one feels the need to justify, the bacon brings out the Dijon and gruyere very nicely.
Adapted from Grant Achatz for Food and Wine
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg and 1 large yolk, beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until just combined. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until dough is pulled together. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature while one mixes the filling.
¾ lb. medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 ½ yellow onions, sliced
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ lb. Gruyere cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Start to boil a large pot of water. While water is coming to a boil, brown onions in a pan with ½ tablespoon of butter. Continue to brown until onions are completely caramelized. Remove from heat. When water has come to a boil, add potatoes, skins on, and boil for 15-20 minutes or until soft when pricked with knife. Drain, and then peel as soon as possible.
2. Mash potatoes in a large bowl with a fork or potato ricer. Mix in the caramelized onions, sour cream, Dijon, 2 ½ tablespoons butter, and Gruyere. Salt and pepper to taste.
2 tablespoons butter or reserved bacon fat
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a couple of times and then roll out until 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut into 20-25 round using a 3 ½ inch biscuit cutter or drinking glass. Place rounds on a floured baking pan. Scoop a flat tablespoon of filling onto half of each round and brush water on half of each round. Fold round over, sealing the edges and making sure no filling escapes or oozes out. This is very similar to gyoza making, but requires less finesse as crimping is optional.
2. Boil pierogi in boiling water for 5 minutes each. At this point, the pierogi can be stored in the refrigerator for three days or at room temperature for a couple of hours in a shallows baking dish and well coated in vegetable oil. Brown pierogi in butter or bacon fat before serving. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.