Making 974 Pierogies

Granted, not everyone wants to make 974 pierogies. But if you do, I suggest a party. It works great for Lynn and Billy, who have been doing it for years. The deal is: you come, you work a few hours getting your hands sticky and/or your shirt spattered with flour, and you go home with zip-lock bags full of deliciousness. It’s worth every minute!

Getting a bunch of people together to make good food is, all by itself, a fun idea. Getting together to make a family favorite, something that is best made with lots of help, something everyone is happy to take home – that’s even better. The party invite should say Bring an apron.

Pierogies,* a filled dumpling, are part of my brother-in-law Billy’s Polish background. They make two kinds, potato-cheese and cabbage.  The potato-cheese kind is creamy and comforting in the same way as mac and cheese is creamy and comforting, and the cabbage ones are filled with slowly sautéed (in lots of butter) sauerkraut, i.e. fermented cabbage cooked down to tender sweetness. Both kinds are amazingly good.

Traditionally, you boil them as you would any filled dumpling (or pasta, if you think along Italian lines), douse with melted butter and serve. I like to sauté some onions in a pan over a low flame, lay the frozen pierogies on top, add a little water, cover, and let them steam into tender puffs …

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…then flip to get the other side just a little crispy.

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It is not a piece of cake to make pierogies, but here are several good reasons to venture into the Pierogi Party Production arena: 1. Many hands make light work. 2. Food is a powerful motivator, meaning you can get people to do work when food is the reward. And 3. Assuming you have someone like my sister Lynn in charge, you know it’s going to be good. She is a master organizer and keeps things going with admirable efficiency and poise. Anyone who can get 12 people to show up at 10:00 on a Saturday morning to do four hours of work with zero monetary compensation deserves applause.

Lynn gets all her ingredients ahead of time. This last time, just before Christmas, they weren’t aiming for 974 pierogies, but they were aiming high! She got six pounds of potatoes, five pounds of butter, 16 (!) large cans of sauerkraut, six large onions, three dozen eggs, a gallon of milk and 35 pounds of flour. The day before, she gets out her recipe (it’s fairly straightforward, you’ll see) and prepared the potato-cheese mixture and the cabbage footballs. Then when her “guests” – all of whom want in on this action because they’ve had these before and they want them again – start coming, she gives everyone a task according to age, ability and stamina, and organizes the steps in such a way as to crank out large quantities in a very short time. It’s a model of productivity.

Four-year-old Brea isn’t going to roll dough, but she can help crack eggs into each batch of dough.

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The rolling out of the dough Lynn assigned to the strong and energetic. If my calculations are correct, Evan and Matt needed to roll out 108 pieces of dough about the same size you’d need for a deep-dish pie.

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The pierogi form, this thing…

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…makes 18. That’s 54 times you need to flip pierogies out of it to make 974 total, but 108 times you roll the dough because there’s a top and a bottom. That’s a workout!

Some people press the mini-roller on the pierogi maker to seal the edges together (go, Erika!), some separate the finished ones and some wait their turn.

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In the end, they ran out of room inside the house and set up tables out on the porch until these made it to the freezer. 974 is a lot of pierogies! If you don’t believe me, I am sure one of them will confirm the truth of this statement.

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The mere 233 we made last February when Lynn and Billy came to my house to visit pales in comparison, but we had our own Pierogi Production Party. We had so much fun (and the pierogies were sooooo good!), we did it again when they came in early December. Tomorrow I’ll give the specifics…

 

*In case you were wondering, pierogi = pierogies. Both are plural. Both are correct (or at least in our modern English usage correct). I use the -es ending for the plural because that’s how I learned it.

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