August 14, 2010

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Pierogi

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

My take on the challenge is a little something I like to call “Louisiana Meat Pie Pierogi”. It was the result of two terribly failed attempts at making traditional pierogi and turned out surprisingly good. Crunchy on the outside, with piping hot, meat pie filling on the inside, these pierogi (pierogis?) are a throwback to the meat pies that I grew up eating every time I visited my grandparents in Louisiana--just in adorable, miniature, pierogi-fied form.

Because these challenges are all about learning something new and stepping out of your comfort zone, I do want to show you a little bit about my previous attempts at the dish. The original recipe that I attempted was a traditional, potato-filled pierogi, whose major difference from the meat pie pierogi lies in the fact that they were boiled, like pasta, rather than fried, like meat pies.

The filling itself included mashed potatoes, onions, cottage cheese, egg, butter, and bacon (which I replaced with pancetta).


Then, after making the dough—which is actually incredibly easy—I cut out the rounds of dough with a way-too-small cookie cutter, then filled each one with a teaspoon of the potato mixture.

After sealing and boiling these beauties until they floated for a bit, I ended up with these…

Not so purdy, right?

A few days later, I tried browning them in a pan instead.

This batch was better, but they just didn’t “wow” me. Especially when boiled, the dough was very bland and I thought I could do better.

So, I put on my thinking cap for a few days and let that idea marinate. I knew that I wanted to try frying the pierogi, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with the same filling. Thinking about my favorite pierogi/empanada/meat pie-style foods was what brought Louisiana meat pies to mind. Composed of ground beef, ground pork, green onions, and garlic, this is a really simple, really tasty filling for my pseudo meat pies.

Before I started my filling, I made the dough--which needs to rest for 30 minutes. It’s just egg, water, and a pinch of salt, combined with flour.



While the dough rested, I chopped up some green onions and garlic…

…grabbed some ground beef and ground pork…

…and cooked it all up in a pan, sauteing the onion and garlic first.


After that was all cooked up, I rolled out the dough and cut it into circles using a large glass, which allowed for a little bit more filling.

I added about a tablespoon of the filling…

…and sealed it up, using a fork to crimp the edges.

Now comes the major difference between my version of pierogi and traditional pierogi…the frying. Honestly, after boiling and browning gave me disappointing results, I resorted to frying because I knew that it would taste great. When in doubt—fry.

That may just be my new motto.

After a quick dip in some hot vegetable oil, these beauties came out noticeably better than their boiled counterparts. The dough was crispy and crunchy, opening to reveal the meaty filling with a little poof of steam. All in all, I thought they were a great, albeit slightly unorthodox, version of traditional pierogi.


Louisiana Meat Pie Pierogi

Printable Recipe

Filling
Recipe adapted from “Natchitoches Meat Pies” and “Meat Pies” from “Cane River Cuisine”

1 ½ pounds ground beef
1 ½ pounds ground pork
1 cup green onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Dough
Recipe adapted from “Russian Style Pierogi” by Anula of Anula’s Kitchen

2 to 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water


Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it; add the salt and add the water, a little at a time. Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. Let rest 20-30 minutes.

Combine ground beef, ground pork, onion, garlic, and seasonings in a large pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the meat is cooked. Add the flour, stirring well to combine. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly and cut with a large glass. Spoon a portion of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together or crimp closed with a fork. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

Heat enough vegetable oil in a large pot to cover the pierogi, about 3 to 4 inches deep. Once hot, add the pierogi in batches, being careful not to crowd the pot. Turning once, cook the pierogi until golden brown and crisp. Place cooked pierogi on a large plate, lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Repeat in batches as necessary.

Serve warm.

21 comments:

  1. Nice! They do look nicer after frying. I wonder what it would taste like to use the meat pie filling but go back to boiling? I tried whole wheat dough for mine.

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  2. wow...now those have to be the best looking peirogi's I have ever seen....they look delicious!! I can't believe you made your own!

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  3. Wow... deep fried pierogi... Srispiness at it's best! Well done with the perseverence and the creativity!

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  4. i love your photos and the creative process you went through to perfect your pierogis! They look delicious, I could eat them all right now.

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  5. Those fried meat pie pierogi look amazing. I love your new motto!

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  6. Glad you didn't give up! You're really daring! Your pierogi look great and filling sounds fantastic :)
    Thank you for taking part in this month's challenge!

    Cheers. Anula.

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  7. @sarah: Oooh that's a good idea!

    @Chef Dennis: Thank you! It was quite a journey.

    @Ruth H: Thanks! It's hard to beat deep frying. :D

    @teafactory: haha Thanks! Even though it was a lot of work, it was kinda fun to get a bit innovative.

    @Mary: Thank you! I'm thinking of getting that motto printed on some t-shirts. lol

    @Anula: Thanks for hosting such a great challenge! It was so fun to try something new!

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  8. I totally agree with your new motto--you really can't go wrong with deep frying. What a creative pierogi concept. Very nice job!

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  9. Oh wow!! These look amazingly delicious! I love your new motto and may have to use it from now on. I wish we could have seen a picture of the inside of one. It sounds scrumptious. Great job on this challenge!

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  10. @Marisa: Thanks! Frying has never let me down. lol

    @Maranda: Like "Mi casa es su casa" my new motto is your new motto. Great idea about an inside shot! I completely didn't think of that. Oh well, I'll just chalk it up to being too busy munching away on a pierogi to remember. :D

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  11. Great job on your challenge. I prefer your 2nd attempt which sounds totally delicious. The fried version reminds of wantons.

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  12. Your fried pierogi look delish! And I love your motto!:) Thanks for the introduction to Louisiana Meat Pies.

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  13. @Jo: Thanks! Oooh now that makes me want to try out some stuff with wontons!

    @Margie: Thanksies!

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  14. They look AMAZING! Love the bold flavors. One day I'm going to jump in to this Daring Bakers Challenge thing! Haven't gotten around to it yet! Looks like fun!

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  15. Your pierogi look delicious and I love Louisiana meat pies! They make me feel nostalgic. *sighs and falls into a wonderful world of meat pies and fried pierogi*
    Thank you Koci!!!!

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  16. @A Spicy Perspective: I highly recommend giving the Daring Kitchen challenges a try! They're lots of fun and you get to learn a bunch of new skills and techniques.

    @Becky: The wonderful world of meat pies and fried pierogi is a lovely place to be. I intend to visit soon. :D

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  17. I've only ever had pierogies from costco (which were actually very good) and I'm dying to try out some homemade ones after seeing all these recipes floating around!

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  18. Dana, how about this? I'll trade you some homemade pierogies for some store-bought ones? These were fun to make, but a lot of work!

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  19. You know I faux-fry and bake stuff and when I truly do the deep frying thing - the family goes gaga. It is simply flavorful. These are just scrumptious. I admire the daring cooks and daring bakers. I feel so timid.

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  20. The fried ones look incredible! Good job on the creativity :-) You've inspired me to try the Daring Cooks challenge. kateiscooking

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  21. Oh man this looks delicious! And your photographs are beautiful! Everything here looks great!
    I recently launched my own blog, I'd love for you to check it out and let me know what you think! :) Thanks!
    www.prettygoodfood.com

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