Every year for Christmas and Easter my Babice (Polish grandmother), my mom and I (and sometimes my cousins, and aunts) make perogies. For Christmas we make between 200-300 and for Easter we make about 150-200. We use to make more but not as many family members come to Christmas and Easter dinner as before. You would think that this would take a long time, but it doesn’t. And it mostly doesn’t because before my mom and I go over on a Saturday to help make them my Babcie has already made the dough and the potato and cheese mix that’s going to go inside of them. So when we get there all we have to do is roll, stuff, and cook/freeze. It still takes a couple of hours but it’s a good bonding time with my mom and Babcie.
Now, I would love to tell you that the dough recipe for my family’s perogies has been handed down from generation to generation and is a closely guarded secret, but I can’t. The dough recipe is from Martha Stewart. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Apparently, the sour cream that the recipe calls for makes all of the difference in making the dough.
For the potatoes my Babcie peels 10 pounds of potatoes (Yukon golds to be precise) and cooks them. Then she grates a couple of blocks of cheddar cheese and puts them in with the potatoes and mashes them. Essentially you now have orange looking mashed potatoes.
From there you roll out the dough, cut it into the little round circles, put a little blob of potato in the middle of it, and pinch the ends closed. It is VERY important to remember that if there are any holes in your pinching that when you cook it the potato will dissolve in the boiling water and you will be left with “a nothing.” There is nothing more disappointing than a nothing. (Unless you just like to eat dough. Then you’re a little weird, but hey we still love you).
When you have your perogies pinched and looking lovely, you then need somewhere to put them. So you either freeze them on trays if you don’t want to cook them immediately – just don’t let them stick to each other – or you cook them.
If you’re going to cook them, then you need someone to put them before they go into the pot (because you’re going to have way more ready to cook than can fit into your pot). So you put newspapers down on a counter or table, and then take an old tablecloth, fold it in half, and put it on top of the newspaper. Then you put the perogies inbetween the layers of tablecloth. We put them into vertical rows of 12, so it’s easier to count how many you’ve made. Make sure that you COVER the perogies once you put them down on the tablecloth with the other part of the tablecloth. Otherwise the dough dries out and you’re left with gross perogies. (Note in the picture below – that I’m about to cover the perogies. Don’t they look good?!)
To actually cook them, fill a huge pot with water, add in some salt and wait for it to boil. Once it boils drop in 30 perogies at a time (if you’re pot is big enough). And you cook them for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes they should all be floating at the top of the water. (Note: If you’ve chosen to freeze them first and then cook as you need them, you need to boil them for 10 minutes).
Then you take out your perogies from the pot and put them into a bowl with a lid. Now, you need to oil them a bit so that they don’t stick together. You can use regular cooking oil but we use salted pork fat (we call it something else in Polish but I can’t for the lift of me spell it). It looks like this:
We buy it frozen, so you chop it up into tiny pieces when it’s frozen, and then microwave it until it’s cooked. It should be brown, and oily with little pieces. Only use the fat though.
Put a tablespoon of that in with your freshly cooked perogies, put the lid on your bowl and shake them around. Add a tablespoon every time you add in new perogies to your bowl.
Then you eat. And you eat as many as you can possible can because few things in life taste as good as homemade perogies.