Wild Mushroom Pierogi – Polish Dumplings

Wild mushroom pierogi
Homemade pierogi vareniki with mushrooms filled dumpling, traditional East European food before boiling. Rustic style.

Pierogi, a traditional Polish dish, turn a few simple ingredients into a feast.  At first glance this recipe may seem complicated but as the different stages can be prepared ahead it is easier than you think. The Pierogi dough can also be used with other fillings too, like cooked chicken, cheese and even sauerkraut.  The following recipe is adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl.

Ingredients for Pierogi Dough

1 cup all purpose flour, plus some extra for kneading.

3/4 cup cake flour (not self-raising)

2 large eggs

a pinch of salt

1/4 cup water

Method for Pierogi Dough

Sift the two kinds of flour and the salt into a mixing bowl.  Make a well in the flour.  Put the water into a measuring jug and crack in the eggs.  Beat lightly with a fork to break up the yolks and then pour into the centre of the flour.  Stir with a fork, gradually incorporating the flour until a soft dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead, only using enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic. This takes about 8 minutes. The dough will be quite soft.  Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes for the gluten strands to relax. This resting period makes the dough tender.  At this point you can also refrigerate it for 2 hours but remember to bring it back to room temperature before shaping the Pierogi.

 

Ingredients for the Pierogi Filling

1 cup boiling water

about 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about a one ounce package)

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

2 garlic cloves, crushed

6 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered

1 and a half tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and pepper

 

For the Onion and Sour Cream Topping

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound onions, peeled and chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

sour cream

 

Method for the Pierogi Filling

Pour boiling water over the porcini in a small bowl and let soak until softened, about 10 to 20 minutes depending on how dry they are.

Lift the porcini out of the water, squeeze excess liquid back into the bowl and rinse the porcini well under running water to remove any grit.  Line a sieve with damp paper towel and pour the soaking liquid through this into another bowl so that you save the flavoured liquid and discard any grit.

Finely chop the onion and garlic in a food processor.  Add the cremini and porcini mushrooms and pulse until very finely chopped.

Heat the butter in a 12 inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until the foam subsides.  Add the mushroom mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are dry and one shade darker, about 8 minutes.  Add the reserved soaking liquid, bring to a simmer and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick, dry and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and seasonings and allow to cool completely.  At this stage you can store this, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days.

To Assemble the Pierogi

Cut the dough in half and wrap one half in the plastic until needed so that it does not dry out.  Roll out the other half on a lightly floured work surface into a 15 inch diameter circle.  Using a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut out about 24 circles.  Put one teaspoon of filling in the centre of each round.  One at a time, moisten the edges with water, fold in half to form a half-moon and press down around the filling to force out any air.  (This is important as air pockets expand during cooking and can make the pierogi fall apart.)  Pinch the edges together to seal.  Transfer to a flour dusted kitchen towel while you prepare the rest.  Repeat with the other half of the dough and the rest of the filling.  At this stage you can freeze the Pierogi for about a month.  Spread out on a tray in one layer to thaw before cooking.

Cooking the Onions and the Pierogi.

Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over moderately low heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown. This will take about 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

In the meantime, fill a big saucepan with salted water and bring to the boil.  Gently lower in the dumplings and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until tender.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked dumplings to the skillet with the onions. Toss gently to coat and serve immediately with a bowl of sour cream on the side.

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