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Daring Cooks Challenge: Pierogis

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

It’s that time of the month again, time for another Daring cooks challenge! I’ll fully admit it, this month’s challenge was a bit tough for me.  We’ve been traveling the Eastern half of the country like crazy people the past month going from Charlotte to Canada and everywhere in between.  I’ve been away from my kitchen for a good portion of July and August and couldn’t find as much time to devote to these pierogis as they truly deserved.

That being said, I’m not one to back down from a challenge, so I forged on.  These little beauties were put together at my in-laws house while we were visiting in Ocean City.  I volunteered to cook a meal for everyone; the pressure was on to create not only a delicious dinner, but a dinner that could be on the table early enough for all the kiddos to enjoy before bedtime set in.  Armed with someone else’s kitchen and two hours worth of cooking time, I set to work to see what I could accomplish.

The result was a sweaty brow and waterlogged pierogis.  I just couldn’t get the pockets to seal and my first batch leaked all their juices out during cooking, leaving the meat water soaked and blechy (is that even a word?).

I needed an out and quick, so I improvised and decided to bake the remaining little buggers (the pierogis not the kids) instead.  And you know what?  They didn’t turn out half bad.  Everyone gobbled them up including the kids.  I’m a bit disappointed I couldn’t get them to work the way I wanted, but I will definitely be trying again.  This time with my own kitchen to guide me and an extra hour or two added in for all the “learning experiences” that accompany a great Daring Kitchen Challenge.

Ok on to the good stuff.  For the pierogis, I chose to make three different fillings.  A potato and cheese, a chicken, spinach and cheese, and a vegetarian version of the spinach and cheese, sans chicken for my SIL and her family who are vegetarians.

Ingredients needed:

1/2 Cup of Milk
1/2 Cup of Whipping Cream
3 Large Egg Whites
1 tsp of Salt
3 Cups of All Purpose Flour

Add your flour and salt together in a bowl.

Add to it your whipping cream, egg whites and milk.

Mix it up well, form it into a ball and knead it until you have a nice soft, pliable dough.  I will tell you that this required considerable kneading and flour spritzes for me to achieve.

At this point, you can cover up your dough and let it rest for a bit while you get to work on your fillings.

Let’s start with the chicken spinach and cheese and/or vegetarian version sans chicken.

Ingredients Needed:

2 Tbsp of Butter
1 Pound of Ground Chicken (leave this out for veggie version)
2 Green Onions, Chopped
3-4 Cups of Chopped  Fresh Spinach
1 Small Bunch of Fresh Basil, Chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1/2 Container of Mushrooms, Chopped
1/4 Cup of Vegetable Broth
1/4 Cup of Sherry
3 Tbsp of Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup of Shredded Cheddar
1/4 tsp of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Grab a large saute pan and add your butter to the pan on medium high heat.  Now add your ground chicken and brown it up.  If you’re going veggie add the butter, skip the chicken and move on the next step.

Once your chicken is browned up, add in the green onions, the spinach, the basil and the garlic. Let the whole shebang cook for a few minutes to get the spinach good and cooked up.

Add in your mushrooms next and give them a few minutes to cook up as well.

When your veggies are good and cooked, turn your heat down to low and add in the sherry, cream, and broth along with your nutmeg.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Let the whole mixture cook down on low heat for a good 5 to 10 minutes until a good portion of your juice is soaked in.  Finally go ahead and stir in your cheddar cheese and allow it to melt. This filling is officially ready to be stuffed!

Next up, the potato stuffing.

Ingredients Needed:

2 Excessively Large Baking Potatoes, Peeled and Chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
3 Tbsp of Butter
1 Onion, Chopped
1/4 Cup of Heavy Cream (you can adjust this depending on potato size)
1/4 Cup of Vegetable Broth (Same with this one)
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Grab your chopped potatoes and throw them into a vat of boiling water.  Let them cook up until soft, about 7-9 minutes.  While your potatoes are boiling, heat up your saute pan on medium heat, add the butter, and cook up your chopped onion and garlic for about 5 minutes.

Now, turn your heat down a notch and add in your cream and broth.

When your potatoes are cooked up good, drain the water out and add them to your onion mixture.

Mix it up good and don’t worry if they turn into mashed potatoes.  Add in your salt and pepper to taste.

And Voila, your masher filling is ready to go as well.

Ok, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to whip up some pierogis turned somewhat samosa!  Grab a slab of dough from your ball and roll it out thin.  If you have a pierogi cutter, use it to cut your dough into individual sized pieces.  If not, find a circle cutter using something from your kitchen.  I used a glass to start with, but eventually graduated up to using the top for the flour container because I wanted my circles a bit bigger than glass size.

Take each circle and fill it with a teaspoon sized amount of your filling, being sure to leave ample space around the edges.

Fold the top over your filling and join your edges together.  Crimp them with a fork to seal the dough together.

You can see pretty clearly where my problem was with these pierogis.  I just couldn’t keep those juices from dripping out and breaking the seal.  Next time I may try a filling that’s a little less juicy and see if it holds better.

Here’s my potato pierogi ready to close up.  Scoop your potato the same as above and then sprinkle some of your cheese on the top.

When all your pierogis are closed up, throw them in the oven set to 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until your dough is cooked through.  For a more golden brown crust, you can brush a little egg wash over the top before cooking.  But, yea, I didn’t get around to that this time.  Pull them out of the oven and serve ’em up!

If you decide to cook them the way an actual pierogi should be cooked, then you’ll fill a large pot with water, get it boiling, and throw your pierogis in the water allowing them to boil for about 5 minutes.  You can pull them out and serve them at this point, or you can kick it up one more notch, throw some oil in a saucepan, heat it up on medium high heat, and brown those little beauties up on both sides for a minute or two.

The choice, as always, is yours.

Here are mine ready to be eaten by young and old alike.

Thanks again to Liz and Anula for providing the cooks with another fabulous cooking challenge!

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

1/2 Cup of Milk
1/2 Cup of Whipping Cream
3 Large Egg Whites
1 tsp of Salt
3 Cups of All Purpose Flour

For the Chicken Filling:

2 Tbsp of Butter
1 Pound of Ground Chicken (leave this out for veggie version)
2 Green Onions, Chopped
3-4 Cups of Chopped Fresh Spinach
1 Small Bunch of Fresh Basil, Chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1/2 Container of Mushrooms, Chopped
1/4 Cup of Vegetable Broth
1/4 Cup of Sherry
3 Tbsp of Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup of Shredded Cheddar
1/4 tsp of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to Taste

For the Potato Filling:

2 Excessively Large Baking Potatoes, Peeled and Chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
3 Tbsp of Butter
1 Onion, Chopped
1/4 Cup of Heavy Cream (you can adjust this depending on potato size)
1/4 Cup of Vegetable Broth (Same with this one)
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions:

To make the dough,add your flour and salt together in a bowl.

Add to it your whipping cream, egg whites and milk.

Mix it up well, form it into a ball and knead it until you have a nice soft, pliable dough. I will tell you that this required considerable kneading and flour spritzes for me to achieve.

Cover up your dough and let it rest.

Grab a large saute pan and add your butter to the pan on medium high heat. Now add your ground chicken and brown it up. If you're going veggie add the butter, skip the chicken and move on the next step.

Once your chicken is browned up, add in the green onions, the spinach, the basil and the garlic. Let the whole shebang cook for a few minutes to get the spinach good and cooked up.

Add in your mushrooms next and give them a few minutes to cook up as well.

When your veggies are good and cooked, turn your heat down to low and add in the sherry, cream, and broth along with your nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste.

Let the whole mixture cook down on low heat for a good 5 to 10 minutes until a good portion of your juice is soaked in. Finally go ahead and stir in your cheddar cheese and allow it to melt.

Next up, the potato stuffing.

Grab your chopped potatoes and throw them into a vat of boiling water. Let them cook up until soft, about 7-9 minutes. While your potatoes are boiling, heat up your saute pan on medium heat, add the butter, and cook up your chopped onion and garlic for about 5 minutes.

Now, turn your heat down a notch and add in your cream and broth.

When your potatoes are cooked up good, drain the water out and add them to your onion mixture.

Mix it up good and don't worry if they turn into mashed potatoes. Add in your salt and pepper to taste.

Grab a slab of dough from your ball and roll it out thin. Cut your dough into individual sized pieces.

Take each circle and fill it with a teaspoon sized amount of your filling, being sure to leave ample space around the edges.

Fold the top over your filling and join your edges together. Crimp them with a fork to seal the dough together.

When all your pierogis are closed up, throw them in the oven set to 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until your dough is cooked through. For a more golden brown crust, you can brush a little egg wash over the top before cooking.

To cook like pierogis, fill a large pot with water, get it boiling, and throw your pierogis in the water allowing them to boil for about 5 minutes.