One of the most popular dishes in Eastern European cooking is Filled Dumplings, known as: Varenyky, in Ukrainian (also very often referred to, incorrectly, as “Pyrohy” ), or Pierogi in Polish. They are made from homemade pasta dough, and filled with variety of fillings, but potato and cheese filling being the most popular.
It is definitely “labor of love” for those who make them from scratch, as it requires several hours of preparation time, but it is so well worth it. The store bought “Pierogies” just do not measure up to the homemade version!!! I was so proud of my daughter when she made these for the first time, without asking me for assistance.
These dumplings were made for generations, but if you ask your mom of grandma for a recipe, you get a very vague list of ingredients, and even less detailed preparation instructions. The first time I made Varenyky, I also played by ear with measuring the ingredients, but with some luck, they turned out quite well.
Currently, thanks to Internet, you can find any recipe you can think of, but I will share my own ingredients, directions and pictures, so if you have the will power, you can give it a try, and enjoy homemade Varenyky/Pierogi made by YOU. The filling needs to be prepared ahead of time, before the dough, so it has time to cool down.
Ingredients for dough:
- 4 cups flour (all purpose – King Arthur or Pillsbury)
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 egg (slightly beaten)
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup sour cream
- Measure 4 cups of flour and place it on your counter top in a mound, making a well in the middle.
- Add the egg, salt and sour cream into the well.
- Using a spoon, start incorporating the flour from the inside of the well, into the wet ingredients, forming soft dough.
- Keep on adding the milk slowly into the mixture in the well, until all used up.
- Continue to mix in the remaining flour until soft dough is formed. You might have some left over flour, depending on how dry the flour is that day. You might have to leave some of the flour, or add some more milk to the dough.
- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding a little bit of flour so it does not stick to the countertop, but not too much so the dough does not become to dense. It should feel like fresh pizza dough, or slightly softer.
- Place your dough on a floured part of a countertop, cover with a tea towel, and let it rest for 15 minute
- Clean you work area of the countertop, sprinkle generously with flour, cut the dough in half, place one half on the floured work area, leave the rest covered for later use.
- Flatten the dough, and using a rolling pin, keep on rolling it up and down and side to side, until it is uniformly thin to about 1/8 inch.
- Using a donuts cutter, or a rim of a glass, cut out circles from the rolled out dough, until all is used up.
- Place the circles on a floured tea towel, and cover with another towel to keep them from drying out.
- Form a new dough ball from the remaining dough left from the cut outs, and repeat the above rolling/cutting out process.
- Once the dough starts to get too thick, do not use it for Varenyky, but you may make it into pasta or just discard it.
- Repeat the process with the second half of the dough, which was resting during this time, until all used up.
- Now you are ready to fill your dumplings with your favorite filling, which needed to be prepared ahead of time, so it had a chance to cool off.
- Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle of a dough circle.
- Fold in half, and pinch sides together well enough so they do not open up. If you do not seal them well, the filling will boil out during cooking time.
- Repeat the filling/pinching process until all circles are filled.
- Keep the finished product covered with a tea towel, until ready to cook.
- Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to boil.
- Drop slowly 8-12 Varenyky into the boiling water; keep close to the surface of the water to avoid splashing hot water on you.
- Stir gently, with a wooden spoon, to prevent Varenyky from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- The Varenyky will float to the top of the water. Do not cover the pot.
- Bring back to boiling point, and boil for 2 minutes.
- Remove with a slotted spoon onto a strainer placed over a bowl.
- Bring it over the kitchen sink, fill the bowl with cold water and place the Varenyky in it for a couple of minutes, then pour out into the strainer again to let the water drain off. Then pour them out onto a large plate to cool off.
- By this time your water is boiling again, so repeat the cooking process until all Varenyky are cooked.
Potato filled Varenyky are best served warm, with onions sautéed in lots of butter, accompanied by a dollop of sour cream. YUMMY!!!!!
They also freeze very well. You need to make sure they are cold and tossed with some oil, to prevent sticking, before freezing them. I use a zip lock bag, and freeze one dozen at a time.
- 8 medium potatoes (Yukon Gold, Red, or Idaho)
- 1/4 lb Yellow American Cheese
- ¼ lb White American Cheese
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 large onion, chopped and sautéed in ¼ cup butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and quarter potatoes.
- Fill a medium size pot with water, add potatoes and bring to boil.
- Cook until done.
- Sauté onions in butter, until golden.
- Drain water from cooked potatoes.
- Add sautéed onions, sour cream, cheeses, salt and pepper.
- Mash well.
- Cool before using.
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