Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pierogi Day

Looks like quite a mess.  This is where it starts the afternoon after Thanksgiving day.  My family - my mother, sister, and brother, along with HWNSNBP and I and Rachel (who was allowed to be absent this year).   Everyone has one or more jobs in the production line - the doughmaker, the roller, the fillers, the pinchers or crimpers, the prickers, the boiler, and the packager.

The Dough  

5 cups flour
1 heaping tablespoon Bisquick 
1 heaping teaspoon sour cream

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) margarine melted in 1 cup of very hot water
1 egg

I start with the first three ingredients in my KitchenAid with the dough hook on.  The margarine and water go in next at a slightly higher speed so as not to cook the flour.  Then in goes the egg.   If it's too dry, more hot water.  Too wet, more flour.  When it pulls from the sides of the bowl I turn it out on the counter, kneading it just a bit to make sure that all the dry ingredients are absorbed and it's not too sticky.  Then it goes into a floured bowl, gets covered with a clean towel and sits and rises.  Then another batch.  And another batch.  And another batch.  Turned out to be 5 batches of dough this year.

While the dough is rising the fillings are prepared.  We make two kinds - potato cheese and cheese. The potato filling is usually what is left of the mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner at mother's house with perhaps a few more made on Friday morning.  To that we add....... wait for it.......... Cheez Whiz.  Two jars that were heated in the microwave with some shredded cheddar and salt and pepper to taste.  When mixed together it should be easy to work with and not sticky so it can be easily molded with spoons.

The cheese filling consists of 3 pounds of farmer's cheese, 28 oz. of large curd cottage cheese (drained if it's really watery), two bunches of scallion tops chopped, a couple of eggs and salt and pepper to taste.  This is the harder filling to work with as it is not as easily molded with spoons.

My brother and HWNSNBP take turns rolling the dough on the counter - the most labor-intesive part of the process.  

We used to use the open end of a two-liter soda bottle to cut circles until I saw this pierogie maker on QVC.  Jeez, it has to be over 15 years ago now as my father was still alive when I got it.

The rollers keep one on the counter to help measure the spread of the dough and the other, with it's dividers goes on the kitchen table which has been covered with a plastic table cloth.

You see below the depressions in the mold where the filling is being placed.  Two of us are responsible for filling and wetting the edges of the depressions with water so when the second sheet of dough is laid over the filled pockets, it will stick together.   There's another rolling pin on the table used to roll over the filled pockets - kind of like using a big shot to die cut the semi-circles.  The excess dough is peeled away and the filled product is dumped onto the table.  

The edges get crimped to make sure none of the filling will escape and then they are pricked several times with toothpick.  I'm not sure exactly why that is, but I guess it's so they don't blow up when heated.

From the table they go into a pot of boiling water and will stay there until they rise to the surface.  

Once cooked they're scooped onto a jelly roll pan and rubbed with margarine.  This will help them not to stick together as much during the packaging process.

From there they go outside onto the covered picnic table to cool and be packaged.  No more than 6 to a package or they're almost impossible to pull apart after freezing.  

We prepared 7 dozen cheese and 9 dozen potato cheese in just about three hours thanks to the assembly-line we had going.  Three dozen of each are put in the freezer to be defrosted and cooked on Christmas Eve.  The rest get divied up for a meal over the weekend or to share with friends and colleagues at work.  

Of course, any casualties (those that may have opened during boiling) are used for tasting purposes but there only happened to be one of each kind this time. 

Usually we order pizza for afterwards, but this time we just had leftover desserts and I finished cleaning up after they all left.  We had pumpkin, apple, cherry, and butterscotch pie to choose from, and my pumpkin roll of course.  


  1. Yum . . . and what a fun day! Definitely worth the mess it may have made.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this post, Lorraine. I found it totally fascinating, as someone who used to cook for a living and still loves cooking for friends. I can certainly see why you have a family assembly line for the day!


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