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.
Once again, I was under the wire for this month’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge. This is becoming a habit!
I’d eaten traditional Polish pierogi before, and was looking forward to trying out the challenge recipes. In the end, I only had time to try Anula’s family recipe.
Making the filling (which consisted in mashed potatoes, bacon, onion, and cottage cheese) was simple enough. I had some mushrooms in the fridge that needed to be used, and you should know by now that I will eat mushrooms in anything, so I finely diced them, sautéed them with the onion, and tossed them into the mix. The filling turned a rather depressing shade of grey (Portobello mushrooms will do that), but I was pleased with the taste.
The dough wasn’t the easiest to work with, I found, although that was probably my own fault, as I suspect I may have overhandled it. It was a bit too rubbery, and had a tendency to retract when I rolled it – a tendency which only increased when I gathered the scraps and rerolled.
Also, I was a little sloppy when filling the dumplings – which is my way of saying I overfilled most of them. I was afraid they would burst when I tried to boiled them, so… I cheated a little. Instead of boiling them, I pan-fried them, then steamed them, pot-sticker-style. As much as I love pot-stickers (I’ve been a gyoza-addict every since that DC challenge more than a year ago), I would have preferred to boil them, as I remember having enjoyed the silky texture of boiled pierogi. But I was hungry, and tired, and this was all we were having for dinner, so I wasn’t taking any chances with it. I know boiled pierogi can be fried once they have cooled, but I wonder if what I ended up making still qualifies as pierogi? Oh well, call them “potato and cheese gyoza” if you wish, they were still good!
As predicted, the dough was a little tough. But I did love the filling. Only I had some of the latter leftover (probably because of all the mushrooms I had added), and decided it would be cool to make croquettes with it. Laurent, my deep-frying expert, obligingly took care of it – but, through no fault of his own, the croquettes disintegrated in the oil. Having said that, the portion we were able to salvage from the pan was actually really good (albeit unattractive as hell), like über-decadent mashed potatoes. I smell a culinary discovery!
My thanks to LizG and Anula for this fun challenge! I promise I will try properly boiling my next batch of pierogi! In the meantime, please check out the challenge recipes at the Daring Kitchen, as well as the Daring Cooks’ blogroll, for tons of creative dumplings!