Every year for Christmas, my Nana Helen (mother of my mother) makes pierogies. My mom’s side of the family is Polish/Ukrainian, and while we dabble only very lightly in Eastern European holiday tradition, pierogies and sour cream are staples at all family events (along with cabbage rolls and borscht, but pierogies are the undeniable fan favourites).
My brothers and I have discussed making pierogies and stepping up to learn, take over, and carry forward some family traditions, and this holiday season was one of our first collective steps in that direction.
In addition to learning how to make pierogi (according to Wikipedia the word is already plural… why would you have just one?!), we also made dinner on Christmas Day. It was a significant group effort… despite only needing to feed 10, we made enough food for nearly twenty: butternut squash/pear soup from scratch, turkey according to the Gordon Ramsay method (lemons are the key to having a delicious and juicy turkey), green beans with bacon, baked cod with tomatoes/potatoes/onions, garlic mashed potatoes, seasoned carrots, cabbage rolls, homemade gravy, and our very own pierogi!
For dessert, my mom ordered us the most beautiful Happy Birthday Jesus cake imaginable. That’s a new tradition, but it’s one that we’ll be keeping.
Anyways… back to the pierogi-making. My grandparents are famously early risers, and always quick to get things done. So when the four of us arrived at their house around 10am on the 23rd, we expected the pierogi-making process to be half done. To our surprise and delight, they really had waited for us before beginning!
We donned our babushkas and our aprons, rolled up our sleeves, and got started.
For the dough, I mixed 1 cup of room temperature water into a 6 cups of Red Rose white flour, along with a couple dollops of regular sour cream. Once it was mixed I had to knead the dough into a nice round ball. I then put the dough aside in a bowl and covered it with a towel. The dough needed to rest on the counter for approximately 30 minutes before it would be ready for use.
In the meantime, my brothers were getting the filling ready: grating old cheddar cheese, and peeling and quartering old yellow potatoes (just old enough that something’s growing out of them). We then boiled the potatoes to prepare for mashing.
Next: lunch break! Heaven forbid we work without being provided lunch!
After lunch, the potatoes were boiled. We mashed them up and added the grated cheese. We also added a few scoops from a jar of sautéed onions that grandmother had made ahead of time. Once the potato mix was ready, we put it outside in the lanai to cool to room temperature-ish.
Once the potatoes had cooled, we started rolling out the dough: time to make pierogi!
We rolled out the dough on the kitchen table, aiming for 1/8 inches in thickness. Then we used an old tuna can to cut circles out of the dough. To make the pierogi, you take a circle of dough, add in a spoonful of filling, and pull the sides together around the filling. Pinch the dough together on both sides in such a vigorous way that you’re sure it won’t pop open when boiling.
We placed them on a towel-covered platter, side by side. When the platter was full, we covered it with another towel, and continued lining up pierogi. They actually looked pretty darn cute. Once all the dough was gone, that’s a wrap! The trays went out to the lanai to freeze a bit. Alternatively, the trays could’ve been placed into the freezer (a deep freeze, obviously… this is the ‘burbs!).
Anyways, I doubt most of you read all that, but I needed it written down somewhere, so there it is. See below for our photos from our holiday adventures in Grimsby!