Friday, December 7, 2012

Potato, Cheddar and Caramelized Onion Pierogis

I grew up in Michigan, and one thing Michigan has is a LOT of Polish people.  Being Czech, I was often mistaken for being Polish since my last name ends in "sky".  I always had to correct people that Polish names end in "ski" not "sky".  Not that any of this really mattered since the two countries are right next to each other, but people from Michigan are offended when being mistaken for being from Ohio (and vice versa ) so I suppose you can understand.

ANYWAY... one thing we had a lot of in Northern Michigan (besides Polish people) was potatoes.  The town of Posen Michigan, hosts the annual Potato Festival and there you can go to feast on homemade potato pancakes and pierogis!  Heaven.

A pierogi is basically a dumpling wrapper filled with mashed potatoes or cabbage.  They can be boiled or fried or boiled, THEN fried, but they are always a delicious morsel of earthy eastern European goodness.  I prefer to prepare them like Chinese pot stickers, so they are steamed while the bottom of the dumpling fries to a golden crispy brown.

These used to be a LOT of work back in the day when my mother had to make the dough from scratch, roll it out, cut, and then fill it.  Now I can buy Chinese dumpling wrappers (which are exactly the same thing as pierogi dough) in the grocery store so preparing these is a snap!

The best thing about these is if you lay them out on a cookie sheet, you can freeze them and then store them in a large plastic bag for whenever you have the craving for pierogis.  Just toss the frozen pierogi in the pan and cook them in 8-10 minutes!

Potato, Cheddar and Caramelized Onion Pierogis
makes about 24

2 or 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large clove garlic
4 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper
2 Medium yellow onions, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz. sharp white cheddar

Round Chinese dumpling wrappers (available at most Asian markets)

For Cooking the Pierogi
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup water

In a large pot, cover the potato chunks with water and bring to a boil.  Add the garlic clove and boil until potatoes are tender.

Drain potatoes and in return them to the cooking pot.  Add Butter and mash potatoes.  Add milk and whisk until desired consistency.  Season with Salt and Pepper.

In a large skillet over medium heat slowly cook the diced onions in oil, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, about 30 minutes.

In a bowl combine mashed potatoes, caramelized onions and grated cheddar.  Mix until well-combined.

Place dumpling wrappers on a clean kitchen towel and place about 1 Tbsp of filling on each wrapper.  With a pastry brush, gently moisten the edges of the wrapper and seal by pinching edges together.

Filling the pierogis...

Place on a large baking sheet and freeze until ready to cook.

Pierogis arranged on a baking sheet and ready to be flash frozen

After they are frozen, pack the pierogis in a plastic bag and keep in the freezer

To Cook Pierogis:
 Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a large heavy non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add frozen pierogis, being careful not to crowd or overlap the pierogis and add water.  Immediately cover skillet with lid to trap the steam and cook over medium high heat  for 4 minutes.  After 4 minutes, remove lid, gently flip the pierogi and fry about 4 more minutes until bottom of pierogis are crunchy and golden brown.

Serve hot with sour cream.

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