More Pierogi Fillings

Introduction/Thank You

Since the pierogi page was put up in 1999, many people have written and shared heartwarming memories and family stories of pierogi traditions. Many offer their thanks for the excruciating detail the page offers. A few have become shining knights to their family and relatives, recapturing a lost family holiday tradition, when a mother, grandmother, or other relative has passed on and their revered recipe was lost forever.

We really do enjoy hearing from people, and strive to answer emails. We have found that hearing about the traditions of other families and their stories enriches us and gives us a sense of pleasure that we could help. It is often quite amazing to hear how similar the holiday traditions are, not just for those of Polish decent, but for others descended from Central or Eastern Europeans who came to this country. When I (Gary) first put the pierogi page up, my wife's (Chris), attitude was along the lines, "There he goes again!" As time passed and I read some of the emails to her, her attitude changed. Now I am required to forward all pierogi emails to her email account.

Quite a few people who write share variations in dough and fillings with us. In a few cases, my original refusal to document fruit fillings was met by pleas to send the recipe. Including these variations on the original page was not an option for two reasons. First, the pierogi page is long enough as it is, and second, I did not want to disturb the flow of the original page. Thus, this page represents all sorts of variations that we either found, or people have sent to us.

Pierogi Recipe and Filling Variations

The first thing to keep in mind is that just about anything that strikes your fancy as a filling can be used in pierogi. There are basically six traditional basic fillings groups. These are potato, sauerkraut, cabbage, fruit, cheese, mushroom, and meat fillings. However, the combinations of these and additions of other flavor enhancers, leads to nearly astronomical variations. On the Pierogi Recipe Page, I described our traditional family versions, but these represent just the barest minimum.

It is not reasonable to document all the nuances of fillings. In many cases, your best bet is to take the recipe as a starting point for your own ideas. If you are interested in more filling variations, I suggest you search the internet.

Some of you will find some of the filling recipes a bit frustrating because they allow for a lot of creativity. The reason is that older cooks and some younger cooks often cook by smell, texture, and taste. The recipes were learned by watching, doing, and tasting. and any really defined amounts are long lost. So the process of making a filling is really incrementally add and taste until you are satisfied. This is not always as easy as it sounds, because the final result will be placed inside the pierogi and that will affect the taste a bit.

Disclaimer: We have not tried the majority of these variations, although many sound great. At some point we may, but for now you are on your own. When we have tried a filling, it is mentioned. We seem to be stuck in a tradition loop that keeps us coming back to the originals on the pierogi page.

In addition, the last section here offers a few variations on dough or tricks that others have suggested in preparing the pierogi.

Filling Variations

Fruit Filling Variations

Just about any of your favorite fruit will work here. Scan the variations and mixtures to get an idea of what will work with your preferred fruit.

Additions

Preparation

Notes

Prune

2 cups

dried prunes

2 Tbs

lemon juice

1 Tbs

brown sugar


Boil prunes for 5 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 20 minutes. Remove seeds; add lemon juice and sugar. Cook again, uncovered, until liquid is almost gone.

 

Cherries
Blueberries
Apples

2 cups

Pitted cherries, blueberries, or apples

¾ cup

Water

½ cup

Sugar – optional

½ tsp

Cinnamon or cardamom

1 tsp

Lemon juice or a bit of lemon zest.

 

Breadcrumbs

Combine fruit, water and sugar in saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer until fruit is tender and water is almost gone. Remove from heat and mash slightly. Add cinnamon and lemon juice. Cook and stir over low heat until thick. Stir in enough bread crumbs to form a thick paste.

Dipped in sweetened sour cream (mix sugar in your sour cream to taste. Freezes great.

Fresh Plums

Fresh purple skin plums; (the kind abundant in August.)
Sugar cubes

Remove the stones and use ½ plum for each pierogi, unless they are too small or too large. Place the uncooked plum on the dough; add one sugar cube, fold, and seal. The pierogi are cooked normally.

This is my mother’s recipe. You can use regular granular sugar, but the sugar cube is easier and pre-measured. The only real problem is fresh plums are not available at Christmas. My mother makes them in late August and freezes them.

Peach Pie Filling

Can of peach pie filling
Bread crumbs

Add breadcrumbs until mixture is a paste stiff enough so that the filling will not run when filling and sealing the pierogi. Be careful not to over add the breadcrumbs, or the pierogi will be too dry.

My wife had a real taste for fruit filled pierogi one Christmas. There were no fresh plums to be had, so based on a number of internet recipes, we came up with this simple solution. My family really liked them.

 

Potato filling Variations

All the mixtures suggested below start with the potato and onion recipe similar to the proportions described on the pierogi page.

Additions

Preparation

Notes

Cheeses:
 American
 Cheddar (mild  or sharp)
 Longhorn
 Colby
 Feta
 Monterey jack (with or without jalapeño)

Just about any of your favorite cheese will work. In many cases the ratio of cheese to potato is around 3:1. The ratio really depends on your taste buds and the how sharp the flavor of the cheese is. Start at a higher ratio like 5:1 and work up to what tastes good to you. Don’t forget the salt and pepper.

 

Cottage cheese
Farmer’s cheese
Pot cheese

These may be much the same cheese with different names or moisture contents. Cottage cheese, typically large curd, contains too much moisture. Remove water by squeezing through cheese cloth. Can use as much as 2:1 potato to cheese.

 

Cheese + Sauerkraut

Moderately common potato variation which adds sauerkraut and cheese to potato and onion mixture.

 

Roasted garlic

Preheat oven to 400 F. Take some aluminum foil and make a little container out of it about the size of a muffin cup. Leave enough extra foil so you can seal the top. Cut the tips off 6-8 garlic cloves (unpeeled) and place in the foil cup. Drizzle 1–2 tsp of olive oil over the cloves. Seal the top of the foil container, and place on a cookie sheet. Roast for 30-35 m. Cool and squeeze garlic out of the skins. Blend into potato mixture.

This was suggested to us several years ago. Our family loves it so much, it has become a regular for us.

 "All-in-one"

A little potato, a bit of regular sausage finely ground with a hint of Garlic, kraut, cheddar cheese, onion and of course and salt and pepper

 

Bacon

Fry bacon and crumble. Can be added to any of the potato variations.

 

 

Sauerkraut Filling Variations

Starting point is usually similar to recipe on Pierogi Page. Brown sugar may be substituted for regular sugar.

Additions

Preparation

Notes

Sauerkraut and Cabbage

Proportions 1:1 ratio of sauerkraut and half chopped boiled cabbage. Boil cabbage wedges for about 15 min, cool, and squeeze the water out, then chop and add to the sauerkraut.

 

 

 

 

Polish mushrooms

Porcini or crimini mushrooms and lots of black pepper.

 

Polish Sausage

Chop polish sausage up and add to fried sauerkraut.

 

Caraway + Mushroom

sauerkraut with caraway and mushrooms. The mushroom s can be regular mushrooms, but shitake, crimini, or porcini will add more flavor. Go easy on latter two, they are strongly flavored ( and expensive).

 

Bacon

Fry bacon and mix into add to sauerkraut. Proportions can very to your taste. We have heard of as high as 1 ½ lb of sauerkraut to 1lb bacon.

 

Hamburger, Cabbage, and Mushrooms

This is the just about everything in one pierogi model. Sorry, no proportions available, but see the meat recipe.

 

 

Cabbage Filling Variations

Start with the filling on the original pierogi page.

Additions

Preparation

Notes

Mushroom

The mushrooms can be regular mushrooms, but shitake, crimini, or porcini will add more flavor. Latter two are strongly flavored, so go easy.

 

Bacon

Fry bacon either separately or with the cabbage.

 

Garlic

Can add for just a bit of different flavor.

 

 

Mushroom Filling Variations

Almost always a mix of mushrooms is used for two reasons. First, the more highly flavored mushrooms, such as shitake especially porcini are very expensive. Second, they have a fairly intense flavor that would be too strong as the single mushroom component. The recipes here, especially the first one, are the most common on the internet.

Additions

Preparation

Notes

Shiitake

½ cup

Shitake Mushrooms

1 lb

button or regular mushrooms, chopped coarsely

½

med chopped onion.

Soak Shitake mushrooms in warm water for at least an hour. Chop very fine. Sauté the regular mushrooms and 1/2 medium onion in butter until mushrooms cooked. Drain the Shitakes, but save the water. Chop Shitake mushrooms very fine, add to the pan with the soak water. Simmer 5-6 min. Salt & pepper lightly. You will need to drain the juice from the mushrooms before filling.

 

Porcini
Crimini

These are traditional Polish mushrooms. These will be most often found dried, often hard to come by, and expensive. Use as a substitute for above. You may need less than indicated for Shitake mushrooms

 

 

Cheese Filling Variations

These are not so much variations as primary fillings

Additions

Preparation

Notes

Farmer’s Cheese
Cottage Cheese

Mix cheese with beaten egg and a bit of salt. Cheese needs to be dry. If necessary, strain through cheese cloth to reduce moisture content. 

 

 

Meat Filling Variations

 

Additions

Preparation

Notes

Ground beef

Good quality, low fat ground beef; held together with an egg and some cracker crumbs...seasoned with onion/garlic salt and pepper to taste

 

Two serving variations were suggested to us. Drizzled with a bit of rendered bacon fat and bits or salt pork and bits.

Served steaming hot with ice cold stewed tomatoes on the side

Dill
Parsley
Chives

Prepare as above, but add some pizzazz with herbs and spices.

 

 

Variations on Dough and Preparation - Some Thoughts

Preparation

Notes

Sour cream in dough. There have been many people who have written and indicated that the sour cream addition to the dough made a big difference in taste and texture. We just want to emphasize that here.

This was also the ingredient my mother forgot to mention to us.

9 cups

unsifted flour

6

eggs

1-1/2 pints

sour cream

1/2 cup

milk

1 Tbs

lemon juice

Beat together: sour cream, eggs, milk, and lemon juice.  Add 5 cups of flour.  Knead in rest of flour.  Cover and let rest one hour at room temperature. The dough should come off your hands at the end of kneading.  Always make sure it is rolled out as thin as possible

 

Add French onion chip dip in the dough, no water & 1/2 stick of butter

 

Use a small melon size scooper with a spring loaded handle, like a very small ice cream scoop for potato and sauerkraut and then roll in palms to even them out.

Although we do not use this technique, it will have the advantage of producing an even filling. Also, in the case of the sauerkraut, it will reduce the problem of“threads” of sauerkraut that need to be corralled in before sealing.

Turn your pierogi within 30-60 seconds in boiling water, otherwise air bubbles form on the top of the uncooked portion of the dough and blows open an escape hole.  Turning the pierogi in 30/60 seconds allows both sides to equally strengthen up to the heat, reducing the chance for blowholes and thus, breaks.

This is a very interesting observation we were sent. We have not tried it yet, but intend to.

Serving with sour cream. This is one of the most popular ways of serving pierogi. It is not one of our favorites, but it is a very traditional addition to pierogi.

 

 

 

About The Author | Send comments and suggestions to: dyrgcmn@comcast.net | ©1999 Gary's Whatever Pages Site

Last Update: January 1, 2007