Cheddar & Onion Pierogi

Pierogi are delicious. They’re creamy, carbie, cheesy, and super versatile. You can do so much with them. One of my favourite ways to eat them is when we eat them for breakfast while we’re camping. They’re delicious with eggs, bacon and ketchup. Although, when we make that, we’re using frozen pierogi’s, not these delicious hand crafted ones!

These aren’t complicated to make. It’s a simple dough filled with what is basically seasoned mashed potatoes. They’re simply boiled until the dough is cooked, and then crisped up in butter, and then topped with whatever your heart desires! I think people are intimidated by making these, but trust me, they’re well worth it!

As easy as they are to make, it can be a little time consuming, especially if you’re doing it alone. But hey, we’re in self-isolation so I know you have the time. I have friends that make them and will spend an entire day putting together hundreds of them and freezing them. But this batch makes 36 well-stuffed, hearty pierogi, and yes – THEY DO FREEZE WELL. You can freeze them after boiling, or after you’ve crisped them up! It just depends how you want to prepare them!

The dough is really simple, and the filling is really easy. Set yourself up in front of your favourite show or some music and get rolling and stuffing! These ones are vegetarian but you can fill them with bacon if you want! I also like them stuffed with sauerkraut!

To fill them, roll the dough out, cut them into a 3-4 inch round (I used a cup!) and put a big dollop on filling them. Stretch the dough as you pinch the edges around the filling. Make sure you pinch the seams really well so they don’t pop oven in the water! If you have trouble filling them at first, it’s okay. It takes a couple tries to figure out the perfect technique that works you, and the right amount of filling. But don’t give up, just scoop the filling off, and try again!

You can top these with whatever you like. Sauteed onions & peppers, keilbasa, bacon, sour cream, more cheese, green onions, make them into a creamy casserole with mushroom soup…I mean the possibilities are endless! You can also spice up the filling however you like! But I like it with cheddar cheese, lots of smoked paprika, sauteed onions and garlic. Mmmm…..

Sum up of why you should try making your own instead of the frozen pierogies:

  1. There are only a few simple steps, they’re easy to make;
  2. You can make these in a big batch and freeze them for later (MAKE AHEAD ALERT!);
  3. You can spice them up however you like;
  4. You can get creative with the filling!;
  5. You can get your kids involved helping to roll and fill them;
  6. A great way to kill time in self-isolation!;
  7. Better, and healthier than the frozen ones;
  8. You can get creative with the toppings and sauces you use;
  9. Hearty and delicious;
  10. They are brag worthy!

Cheddar & Onion Pierogi

For the dough:

4 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for kneading)
2 eggs
1 cup water at least (may need more if your dough is dry!)
1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

3 large or 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
Olive oil, for sauteeing
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. smoked paprika (or to taste)
Salt & pepper, to taste
Chili flakes, to taste

To cook:

Sour cream (for garnish)
Green onions (for garnish)
Any other toppings you’d like!

To make the dough:

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and water until combined. Add to flour mixture until combined.

Turn dough onto a floured hard surface and knead until the dough is soft and smooth. If your dough is too dry, add water, a few drops at a time until it’s soft and smooth.

Once it’s kneaded, put the dough in the floured bowl and cover. Let rest for 10 minutes.

To make filling:

Fill a large pot with water. Put in chunked, peeled potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender about 25 minutes (depending on how big you cut your potatoes!). Once they are cooked, drain and put aside until cool. Mash potatoes (or use a ricer) until potatoes are smooth and creamy.

While the potatoes are cooling, heat up olive oil in a saute pan. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are soft and tender and garlic is fragrant.

Add onion/garlic mixture, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese and spices to the cooled, mashed potatoes. Mix well. Add more or less spices to your taste! Add sauerkraut or bacon or any other filling you’d like!

Let’s fill them!

To fill:

Roll the dough out until thin (less than a 1/4 inch). Using either a cookie cutter or wine glass (like I did) cut the dough into circles. You can make them as big or as small as you like. Remember the size of your cutter will impact how many you get in a batch. My 4 inch wine glass makes 36.

Take your cut circle of dough, and place a dollop of around 1 tbsp of filling (again depending on the size of your circle) right in the middle of the dough. Fold the dough over the filling, gently stretching it as you fold it – and press together the seams of the dough. I found it’s easier if you start at the bottom corners and work your way into the middle. Press the seams together tightly, so that you can’t see the seam. This will ensure that they don’t explode while cooking!

To cook:

Once they are all filled and ready to go, put a large pot of water on the stove. Bring to a boil and salt the water like you would pasta.

Once the water is boiling, add a few pierogi at a time so they don’t stick together. Once the pierogi floats to the top, let them float for 1 additional minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the boiling water and put aside while you boil the next batches. You can eat them boiled, or continue onto frying, like I did in this recipe.

You can freeze them at this point or continue on to the next step!

Melt butter in a large saute pan. Add a few pierogi at a time, cook them until each side is brown and crispy. remove from the pan and top with your favourite toppings!

I like topping them with sour cream, green onions and sauteed peppers and onions. But you can top with bacon, chives, kielbasa, whatever you like, get creative, guys! These are delicous and well worth the effort!

*To freeze* after boiling, place them in a single layer, with parchment paper in between the layers. Re-boil them from frozen, or you can freeze your leftover crispy ones in a container as well and heat up in the oven!

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