Thursday, August 21, 2014

~ Homemade Pierogies...and Baked Potato Skins ~

 Homemade Pierogies.  It sounds like it can take all day, but with a bit of organization, or simply having made them a few times, it really doesn't.  It does take longer than opening up of box of frozen ones, but the result of homemade pierogies can't be beat.  I got my recipe here:  You can use the recipe as it's written, or as I often do, change things up a bit.  I like to use baked potatoes since I can use the hollowed out potato skins to make baked potato skins in addition to the pierogies. I also don't add onion to the potato mixture.  I love that this recipe uses sour cream in the dough, somehow the sour cream gives tenderness to the finished product.  I have a lady lock recipe that uses sour cream in the dough, and they are so good, better than good, but that's another post for another day!  So here's how to make a great pierogi. 

I start out by baking some potatoes in the oven just as I would for baked potatoes.  Pierce the skins in a few places, about five or six spots so steam can vent and the potatoes don't explode in the oven!  I baked about eight medium to large sized potatoes, and placed them directly on the rack so the skins could crisp up a bit.  When they are cooked, I sliced them in half lengthwise to cool faster.  Save the skins!  What I like about baking the potato vs. boiling is that there is no waste here, I use the potato skins to make potato skins!

 Simply scoop out the potatoes into a medium to large sized bowl.

Add whatever kind of shredded cheese you like to the potatoes, I used colby-jack, about 4 oz.  At this point, I also add about 2 tablespoons of butter and 1-2 teaspoons of milk.  It just makes the mixture a bit more creamy.  I also don't add onion to this mixture, I add onion to the pan during the last step of cooking.
Mix everything together until nice and smooth.  Actually, I like some lumps in the potatoes, it's a matter of personal preference.   I use a fork or slotted spoon, but this can be done with an electric mixer too, I just like to minimize clean up!

Now just roll out the dough from the recipe above.  I did roll it thinner than 1/8th inch, this dough has a good bit of elasticity, so the dough stretches a bit to seal in the filling.  Cut circles with the edge of a glass or cookie cutter.  I used a large drinking glass, a mason jar would do the job too. 

Place about 1-2 teaspoons of potato/cheese filling to the center of the circle and fold the dough to form a half circle.  Seal the edges with a fork.  If the dough is dry and the edges aren't sealing, simply brush a small amount of water to the edge and seal with the fork again.  You want a good seal so that the potato filling doesn't leak out while cooking.

At this point, I change the recipe from above a bit again.  While I'm forming the pierogies, I add one onion, (I like sweet onions) , to a large cast iron skillet with 1- 2 tablespoons of butter and saute until the onions caramelize and get a nice brown color.  Again, this is a matter of preference, I like the onions cooked a bit more.  Add the pierogies directly to the pan and add about 1/2 cup of water, more can be added if it all cooks off before they are done.  It only takes a couple of minutes each side to cook the pasta and warm the filling.  At the very end, as the water is cooked out of the pan, I add just a bit, maybe a tablespoon of butter to finish off and give a nice flavor.  Not much is needed, and you don't have to add any, it just finishes off the pierogies nicely without making them greasy.  Basically, I cook the pierogies with the water instead of a lot of butter or oil, the pierogies turn out nice and tender, then I add the butter for flavor.

This is the finished product!  Whenever we have a starchy meal, I balance it out with a green vegetable.  This is a trick my mom taught me as a young girl.  It adds veggies to the plate, and the green and in this case, red of the tomatoes makes the meal look appetizing.  A fresh simple salad from the garden to compliment these pierogies...nothing better.  It was delicious, my kids were very quiet at the table, no bickering or complaining, because they were too busy eating!  :)  

These can also be made but not cooked and frozen for later use.  If you choose to make extra for a future meal, simply freeze on a cookie sheet single layer, then place in a tightly sealed ziploc bag, and freeze. 

Now to the hollowed out potato skins from the start of the recipe, I simply add any leftover potato filling, some shredded cheese and carmelized onion and bake for about 5-7 minutes at 375 degrees F, until the cheese has melted.  Add to this any topping you like.  I like just a simple salsa to the top, but you can add sour cream, bacon pieces, taco toppings...really, whatever you like!  Enjoy!!

So, by baking the potatoes instead of boiling, and mixing everything by hand, I save a lot of time on clean up!  I hate clean up!  If I can minimize pans used to prepare a recipe, I'm all for it, and there is very little waste or waste from packaging from this recipe.  One of these days, I'll learn to make my own cheese, to minizmize waste from packaging even more!  This is a great home cooked dinner, that doesn't take as much time as you might think, and it fills the belly.  :)

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