I was born in Poland and raised for the first years of my life in a
remote village in the foothills of the Karkonosze Mountains by my
grandmother Józefa, a professional chef and collector of herbal
remedies. At least twice a week, I watched her make pierogi, the
ravioli-like pasta pockets that were, and still are, my favorite meal.
First, the kitchen table had to be cleared of my toys and drawings to
make space for the large wooden board that she used to make the dough. I
loved watching her small hands as they moved quickly through a mountain
of silky flour and glistening butter, mixing and kneading the two with
water into a soft, supple ball. She’d triumphantly drop the dough onto
the wooden board with a plop, cut it into pieces, and roll them into
not-too-thick-or-too-thin sheets with her heavy wooden rolling pin.
my grandmother would use a teacup to cut out circles from the dough.
(Wanting to help, I was allowed to play with the dough scraps.) She’d
place a mound of flavorful filling on each circle, fold the dough over
the filling, and pinch the edges firmly together.
How to Shape and Cook Pierogi
Mix just enough warm water into the dough to create a cohesive mass. The dough will be shaggy at this point, but it should hold together in a ball.
Use a light and gentle hand when kneading the dough, working it just until soft and supple. It should feel like Play-Doh but won’t be entirely smooth.
The rolled dough will be smooth but slightly tacky where you’ve cut it, so flour your work surface and cutter to prevent sticking.
To keep the pierogi from leaking when they’re cooked, tightly pinch the edges of the dough together, making sure that no filling has come between the two dough edges.
When the pierogi float to the top, they’re done. Transfer them with a slotted spoon or skimmer to a warm serving dish. There’s no need to blot them dry.
Pierogi are great boiled, but you can also fry the boiled pierogi in butter until crisp and golden-brown. The textural contrast with the fluffy filling is delicious.