How Do You Spell Perogie?

perogi, pyrogy, perogie, perogy, pirohi, piroghi, pirogi, pirogen, pierogy, pirohy, pyrohy?!?

Visiting my parents in the blustery Bruce County hills off Lake Huron in January inevitably brings about the kind of creativity and inspiration I defer to daily when back “down South”, near Toronto.

filling and crimping perogies

The perogie assembly line

Provided that you can actually get to the nearest grocery store (15min); bulk store (35min); or convenience store (10min) by car – these winter ‘runs into town’ are anything but: usually requiring double the time estimates given; and an Odyssey-like trial combining the navigation of roads that have not been plowed between 6am-4pm with an iron will and concentration against the mutable chaos of the climatic elements. Therefore, planning our culinary experiments rests on these variables and can change at the drop of a snowflake.

Luckily, my mother keeps a supply of ingredients that would make Martha Stewart and Michael Smith proud, while my father keeps care of the ‘fuel’ (a healthy provision of Ontario VQA wine; local beers; and spirits).

So, on an unpredictable January day, with Mom’s pantry thankfully providing the basic ingredients, we decided to try our hand at homemade perogies to be paired with some 2007 Ontario Riesling that my Dad kept referring to as “The Vintage”. Now, let it be known that our family is so Canadian that our earliest documented existence is on Ontario soil around the time of Napoleon’s loss at Waterloo – therefore, we neither admit, nor claim Eastern European culinary tradition or legacy. In fact, I do not even know how to properly spell the darn word. And if this sounds like a disclaimer, that’s because it is.

perogie dough

Do play with your food

Now, although the ingredients are quite basic, it is the preparation of said dish that can be as trying as the Bruce County weather. We implored the entire family to participate and formed an assembly line that produced beautiful pergoies that matched blissfully with Dad’s “Vintage”. And this is the point: sometimes the bag in the freezer is ideal after work or school; but guaranteed with a bit of time and effort it doesn’t matter how you spell it; what you stuff them with; or where your ancestors are from – the satisfaction of eating your own creation with your friends and family inspires and encourages the sweet taste of culinary victory; regardless, of whether you may have to eat them for the next three days because the weather stops you from your ‘run into town’.

Below, you will find the recipe we novices used successfully:

Dough

3 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup water (approx)
4 tsp vegetable or canola oil

Potato Filling

1 tbsp. butter                                                     *ham, bacon – or anything you desire
1/3 cup finely choped onions
1 cup cold mashed potatoes
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper

ham, mushroom, perogies

What will you put in yours?

Dough

In bowl, whisk flour with salt.  In separate bowl, beat together egg, water and oil; stir into flour mixture to make soft, not sticky, dough that holds together in ball.  If necessary, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, being careful not to make dough sticky.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead about 10 times or just until smooth.  Halve dough; cover with plastic wrap or damp tea towel.  Let rest for 20 minutes.

Potato Filling

Meanwhile, in skillet, heat butter over medium heat; cook onion for 3-5 minutes or until tender.  Transfer to bowl: stir in potatoes, cheese, salt and pepper.

Working with half of the dough at a time and keeping remainder covered to prevent drying out, roll out on lightly floured surface to about 1/l6 inch thickness; with 3 inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds.  Place 1 tsp of filling on centre of each round; with water, lightly moisten edge of 1 half of round.  Fold each round in half; crimp edges together with fork.  Place on tea towel-lined rimmed baking sheets; cover with damp tea towel to prevent drying out.  (Refrigerate for up to 8 hours, or freeze on baking sheets, then pack in freezer bags for up to a month. Don’t thaw before cooking).

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook perogies in batches, stirring gently to prevent them from sticking together or to bottom of pot, for 1.5 to 2 minutes or until they float to the top.  With slotted spoon, transfer to colander to drain.

Meanwhile, in large heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat; cook 1 sliced onion (or more if accepted by your fellow diners) for about 5 minutes or until golden (2-3 diced slices of bacon is optional).  Add perogies, toss to coat and warm through.  Serve with sour cream.

About 

From Toronto, Ontario

I was born in Oakville, Ontario; but moved three hours north to the Bruce Peninsula at a young age where my parents still farm beef cattle in the rolling hills - off the Lake Huron shoreline – today. Always a ‘self-starter’, my first job was as a rabbit farmer, an enterprise began with my father at age ten to supplement my weakness for Archie comic books.

Later, while working toward my degree in History and English Literature at Wilfrid Laurier University, I discovered my passionate quest to inform on my regional agriculture. Coupled with a natural affinity for conversation – these qualities developed into a part-time career in the hospitality industry. Following graduation, I traveled to Western Europe and spent an entire summer soaking in the food, wine, beer, and lifestyle of the Continent. It was in Epernay, France – the heart of the Champagne region - that my obsession with history and gastronomy peaked - standing in the caves of Moet & Chandon recalling Winston Churchill’s World War I era quote: “Remember gentlemen, it's not just France we are fighting for, it's Champagne”.
Upon returning to Canada, I wanted to foster such recognition of quality and passion in our own domestic food and beverage industry. So I, first, began by managing a bistro in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District. Along with the responsibilities of beverage management, I also took on staff development. Frustrated by my young staff’s general lack of confidence and knowledge in wine and premium beverage, I started hosting tastings and wine tours to Niagara for my employees – as well as other connections in the industry.

The tours to Niagara’s appellations were a hit - and two years later I launched WineNot Ontario; a blog and wine tour company based on the needs of the restaurant industry with respect to our local Ontario product. Recently, I have returned for graduate education at the University of Toronto for web marketing and e-commerce where I refined my previous skills to now offer content creation and management; social media strategy, and communications for the hospitality and lifestyle industry.

My interest in Canada’s burgeoning beer, food, and wine culture, therefore, brings my love of agriculture, gastronomy, web content and social media together, here, on Foodie.ca.

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5 Responses

  1. Making perogies (that’s how I always spell it, hah) is one of my favourite winter things to do. It’s one of those times when I can be in the kitchen with my boyfriend for hours and it doesn’t feel like work, lol.

    • K. McCarron says:

      To his immense credit, my bf is my (and his family’s) most talented “Chef”; with an incredible natural affinity – however, my luck runs out when it’s clean up time…his capacity for a “mess” is as astronomical as his culinary skills…but can’t argue that cooking together is better than any 4-star resto visit… !! Thanks, Michelle 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your parents live in Bruce County? My condolences: I escaped young.nnAlso, with respect there is nowhere in Ontario that is an authority on perogies. WINNIPEG is the authority on perogies, and any Winnipegger will tell you that the reason it doesn’t matter how they’re spelled in English is that they should always be spelled in Polish or Ukranian.

    • K. McCarron says:

      I guess we disagree on Bruce County, there, Raincoaster. After leaving it for Waterloo, Europe, and now the Toronto area; I adore returning to “The Bruce”…there is no place I’d rather visit – and in the Summer especially n(Southampton Beach *sigh*)…Also, great local food and craft beverage movement gaining ground there, too…nnWill look into this Winnipeg perogie trend you speak of though…Cheers!

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