Pierogi Dumplings History and Recipe
Autumn, and its cooling weather, it the perfect time to try out new warming recipes! Here at Gooroo, we love sharing cultural dishes you might not have heard of. Thus, in today’s blog, we’re highlighting the Central Eastern European dumplings: pierogi. Read on to learn about its history and how you can make your own at home!
What are Pierogi?
Pierogi are filled dumplings made by wrapping unleavened dough around a savoury or sweet filling and cooking in boiling water. Additionally, preparers pan-fry before serving.
Mostly associated with Central and Eastern European cuisine, these dumpling are also popular in America and Canada. Probably due to the various European communities that migrated there over the decades.
The origin of the pierogi is unknown and unverifiable. However, Central and Eastern Europeans have consumed the dumpling long before any of the present political nations existed.
One legend states in that they are a symbol of gratitude to a Saint who helped a communities crops grow back. Another, recalls the Saint Haycinth feeding the dumplings to those in a famine in 1241.
Pierogi In Different Countries
Even within Central and Eastern European countries, pierogi take different forms and posses different symbolism.
- Hungary. Hungarian cuisine has the derelye: similar to the dumpling, its pasta pockets fill with jam, cottage cheese, or sometimes meats. It is a festive food for special occasions such as weddings.
- Poland. Traditionally considered peasant food, the dish went on to be a staple of the Polish diet. In fact, each holiday and special occasion had their own kind and variation.
- Ukraine. Varenyky are a popular nation dish spotted at both common everyday meal and part of traditional celebrations. Unlike other countries on this list, Ukrainians use fermented milk products to bind the dough together. Additionally, these specific dumplings play a symbolic and ritualistic role. Ukrainian ancestors equate its shape to the young moon. Thus, one would be sacrificed in water as part of a ritual aiming to bring a rich harvest.
- Romania and Moldova. Colțunași has a dough made with what flour and is boiled in salted water, pan-fried in oil or baked in the oven.
- Russia. Adopted from the Ukrainian version, these pierogi came into play during the Soviet period.
- Slovenia. Like Romania and Moldova, these dumplings use a different flour: buckwheat. Additionally, they are also a staple of Slovenian cuisine.
- United States and Canada. Brought over by immigrants, we find the dumplings in cities where these cultures have large populations such as: Cleveland; Chicago; and New York as well as its New Jersey suburbs.
As we mentioned, these dumpings have their own patron saint: Hyacinth. “Święty Jacek z pierogami!” (translated to: St. Hyacinth and his pierogi) is an old Polish expression of surprise. It is roughly equivalent to “good grief” or “holy smokes”.
Ingredients and Preparation
Interested in making your own pierogi? Check out this method of preparation!
For the filling, it is completely at you discretion! Typically, innards include:
- mashed potatoes
- fried onions
- quark (a fresh dear produce made by curdling and straining soured milk)
- sauerkraut (finely cut raw cabbage fermented in vinegar)
Additionally, sweet ingredients create dessert versions stuffed with: sweetened quark or fresh fruit filling such as cherry, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, apple, or plum.
How to Make
First, prepare the dough. This is a mixture of flour, warm water, and sometimes an egg. Once these ingredients are combined, roll flat and cut circles about the size of a drinking glass.
Next, place the filling in the middle of the dough. Fold over to form a half circle. Press the seams together to seal — this is very important so the insides don’t escape when cooking!
To cook, float the dumplings in some water for a few minutes and drain. Then, back or fry in butter before serving. Top the them with sour cream and garnish with small pieces of fried bacon, onions, and mushrooms. Enjoy!