For the past five years I have been lucky to celebrate Christmas Eve with a friend of Polish descent. I adore food traditions, and while I had heard of the Italian Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of Fishes, I was not familiar with the Polish custom of Wigilia.
Traditionally, the Polish Christmas eve meal consists of multiple courses of white, usually meatless, dishes. The feast begins when the youngest child sees the first star in the night sky.
My friends’ and my Wigilia remains Polish in flavor and snowy in color, though we generally throw in a main course of schnitzel or whole salt-roasted snapper. No matter the entree, something that we simply cannot do without are Pierogis.
They do take some time and effort to make, but the beautiful part is that you can you make them all the way to the final step in advance and stock your freezer full so you have their pillow-y potato goodness at the ready before the holiday season overtakes you.
So, here, a month before Christmas, I give you a recipe for Christmas Eve Pierogi. Call over your some friends and pinch away.
Recipe: Potato and Cheese PierogiCourse: Entree, Main Course, Special OccassionCuisine: PolishDifficulty: Intermediate
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
2 lbs russet potatoes
1 tbs vegetable oil, or vegetable oil spray
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, roughly grated
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt & Pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion
- Mix egg and sour cream until combined. Add flour and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. If the dough looks dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Refrigerate for 5-8 hours, or if it is cool enough, simply rest on the countertop with bowl overturned on top.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash potatoes. Poke holes in potatoes. Coat lightly in oil and sprinkle skins with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes on rack in center of the oven, with a baking sheet or a piece of foil on a lower rack beneath them to catch and water or oil that might drop from them. Roast potatoes until tender in the center, about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Slice each potato in quarters, and scoop flesh into a bowl. Reserve potato skins for a chef’s snack*.
- Add cheddar and pinch of nutmeg to hot potatoes and stir until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
- Divide pierogi dough into quarters. Cover dough with a damp towel to keep from drying out. Roll one-quarter of the dough at a time on a floured surface to 1/8″ thickness. Cut three-inch rounds of dough. Roll scraps into a ball and allow to rest before rerolling.
- Fill each dough round with 1 rounded teaspoon of potato filling. Wet the edges of the dough with water and press to seal well. Place sealed pierogi on a baking sheet lined with parchment (or cornmeal) to prevent sticking. Cover filled pierogis with a dishtowel to keep from drying out.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Gently drop 4-6 pierogis at a time in the boiling water. Cook until pierogis float to the top of the pot, then allow to cook 1 minute more before removing with a strainer. (From this point, pierogis can be frozen and stored for 2 months).
- In a large heavy skillet over medium high heat, soften 1/2 cup of onions in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add strained pierogis to the skillet an toss to coat with butter (it is ok if a little bit of the pierogi water splashes into the pan; this will only help emulsify the sauce and give it a creamy body). Lower heat and allow one side of the pierogi to reach a rich golden brown.
- Repeat with the rest of the dumplings. Serve with sour cream, apple sauce, and sauerkraut on the side.
- This recipe is adapted from recipes I received from the Costello Family. These are excellent on a cool fall or cold winter day.