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