Hope your apocalypse is going as well as possible, still, and that these recipes are helping comfort you in some small way! This week, we’re building off of Erin’s recipe for the ultimate comfort food, mashed potatoes, to give you an Eastern European classic that’s just as delightful and comforting. Pierogi!
When I was a young, half-Polish, half-Italian kid growing up in Northern Appalachia, the gold standard for pierogi was the cheddar/potato variety that little old ladies made in the Catholic church basements and froze all year until the annual church bazaar, when they absolutely drowned them in butter to everyone’s great delight. This take is a little different than that, with a heightened flavor profile, but not less butter, I promise. This recipe is a sweet potato/homemade ricotta stuffed periogi with a sweetened beurre blanc to top it off. This is a 4 part recipe, or 3 part if you decide you’d rather one of Erin’s many beautiful incarnations of mashed potatoes in it! But below is the way I made it, and I ate every last bite and wished there was more.
MAKING THE PIEROGI DOUGH
This step is simple, just a few ingredients. I recommend you do it first so you can let the dough rest a little while in your refrigerator, covered, while you do the other steps. You’ll need:
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cups of water
2 Tbsp of full fat sour cream
2.5 cups of AP flour
Whisk the first four ingredients together, then gradually work in the cups of flour. Because of the sour cream and eggs, you’ll have a smooth, high-fat, elastic dough. This will make it soft and give it a great mouth-feel when you’ve got the finished product.
MAKING THE RICOTTA
You’ll find our homemade ricotta recipe here! Before you get intimidated by making your own cheese, I want to remind you that it’s SO SO SO SIMPLE, just a few steps for a fresh homemade ricotta, and once you see how easy and tasty it is, you’ll never go back to store-bought! If there is one thing I hope to impress on folks learning to cooks it’s that homemade, down to the smallest ingredient, is always better!
You can very easily use one of Erin’s mashed recipes here! But for my recipe, I took the following and mashed them together:
1/2 cup of homemade ricotta
1 large sweet potato, roasted until the skin peels easily and the meat is soft
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
a dash of salt and pepper
ASSEMBLING THE PIEROGI
First, you will take you relaxed dough from the refrigerator, and roll it out out as thin as you can without compromising its ability to hold in the filling. Then, you’ll take either a set of ring molds if you’re fancy, or a decent sized coffee cup or water glass and a knife, and cut circles 3 to 4 inches in diameter out of your dough.
Next, you’ll take a tablespoon, and put enough filling in the middle that you can pinch the ends shut, likeso:
Lastly, you’re going to drop them into boiling water until they float and are heated through.
There are a lot of great ways to go about making sauce for peirogi (one, as I mentioned, is just drowning the suckers in butter! and onions!). But for this recipe, I decided to try beurre blanc. Beurre blanc is a french sauce that’s butter and white wine and delightfulness, and it’s traditionally used on fish, so it can lean towards the acidic, while deliciously creamy. I swear to god, I am going to admit something shameful – I am a New American style pastry cook for the most part, and I’d never heard of this sauce until I watched Julie and Julia and was won over by Julia Child’s love of it. So I decided I was not going to try to reinvent the wheel with it, but use this recipe from the wonderful site Epicurious. However, I added two tablespoons of honey to it to give it a slightly sweeter flavor profile, and combined with the ricotta and sweet potatoes, that came out an utter delight. I want to encourage you to use your common sense with cooking — too sweet? Add some acid like lemon or vinegar. Too acidic? Try honey or sugar. Too bland? Salt or soy sauce. Because your taste buds are experts at what you like. Always feel free to improvise!
That’s it! Enjoy! My Polish grandma may be horrified by this Polish/French fusion, but I think you’ll love it!