This weekend is Easter, which means that tomorrow is Good Friday, which means that if you are a member of my family, you will be eating pierogi! It’s a tradition that I believe was started by my Grandma in an effort to come up with a meatless pre-holiday Lenten meal. It’s since morphed into kind of a large celebration that’s honestly a little at odds with the somber religious holiday it shares a date with, but a fun and delicious day nonetheless.
Pierogi Day is typically a pretty big endeavor – many balls of dough are made the night before, and fillings are prepared that morning. In some years, close to 20 people have gathered to roll, assemble, and boil the pierogi. Someone’s usually on onion duty (and I am one of a few people who won’t be shy about complaining if the onions are undercooked! Please, brown them a little!). On one very dark day in the early 2000s, someone introduced a fat free margarine spray instead of butter, which I hope they still feel terrible about (because it was indeed a terrible pierogi injustice!). From my childhood, I remember three standard fillings: potato-cheese, potato-mint, and sweet cheese. There were a few experimental years where the kids were allowed to make some with things like marshmallows, jelly, and chocolate chips (I DON’T RECOMMEND ANY OF THESE), and in recent years we’ve had experiments in cabbage and sweet potato… which are fine, but I will stick to the basics, thank you very much. And in fact, I’m typically going to fill my plate with 75% sweet cheese, the potato just being an extra side dish. Sweet cheese is where it’s at!
All this being said… I’m not going to share a pierogi recipe today, because it’s probably short notice for you to get together that many people and all your biggest pots and the patience and upper body fortitude to roll all that dough… but I will share with you the absolute most perfect solution if what you just want is that amazing, salty-sweet taste of Grandma’s cheese pierogi. This option will still require a little counter space and hand-eye coordination, but could easily make it on to your table for dinner, and will let you feel like you’re experiencing a little big of Pierogi Magic this week, even if we didn’t invite you to our holiday.
(adapted from this recipe, which has some helpful step-by-step pictures)
- 1-1/2 cups large curd cottage cheese1
- 1-2 Tablespoons sugar2
- 2 eggs
- 5 tablespoons salted butter3 (melted and slightly cooled)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- melted butter, sour cream, applesauce and/or jam for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove.
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cottage cheese, sugar, and butter. Mix with a fork or wire whisk.
- Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the flour, just a little bit at a time. The dough will be sticky but should be stiff enough to work with. Depending on the moisture level of your cottage cheese, you may need to add more or less flour than what is written here.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide into two or three pieces. Roll each piece out into a snake that is 1-2 inches wide (you know, how you used to do with Play-dough or clay)
- Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, slice each snake into 1-inch pieces.
- Drop the dumplings, 8-10 at a time, into the boiling water (less if your pan is smaller… you don’t want them to stick together). They will cook in only a few minutes, and are done when they float to the top.
- Remove dumplings (a spider strainer is perfect for this) and place on a plate or in a serving dish, topped with melted butter.
- Serve with your favorite topping! I was really seeking a pierogi-like experience, so I served mine on a bed of sauteed cabbage with sour cream… and then decided to take a walk on the wild side and add a dab of lingonberry jam. There are endless traditional and not-so-traditional ways to enjoy this dish!
- Please make sure to seek out large-curd cottage cheese. This will be a soft, watery mess if you use the regular kind.
- I reduced the sugar significantly from the original recipe, just because the flavor I am used to is very lightly sweetened. I imagine the large quantity of sugar called for in the recipe I link to above is also delicious, it just wasn’t what I wanted.
- Note that this is one of few recipes in the world calling for salted butter. If you don’t typically keep it on hand, just use the same quantity of unsalted butter and add a little salt (1/4-1/2 teaspoon) to taste – and remember you can always sprinkle more on top later.