These Authentic Polish Pierogi with Potatoes and Cheese (Pierogi Ruskie) are the real deal. Traditional Polish dish at its best! Try this recipe and never buy pierogi again. They are amazing.
This post was originally published on December 24, 2014 (On Christmas Eve!) and since then has been updated to provide additional information.
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Polish Pierogi with Potatoes and Cheese (Pierogi Ruskie) – the Most Popular Kind
Have you ever tried real, authentic Polish pierogi?
Now I’m not talking about the frozen dish that you can purchase in almost every supermarket. In fact, these store-bought cousins are even improperly named. They’re called “Pierogies.”
For all Poles, this is the funniest thing ever. The reason being is that the word “Pierogi” is already pluralized (1 “pierog” is the singular). The addition of an “s” to make the English name plural is just way too funny. But obviously, I get it, and I’m absolutely not offended.
Actually, it makes me proud that we have created a dish so popular that is eaten throughout the world. So, if you haven’t tried a truly authentic version yet, then definitely give these a go. ‘Street-cred’ affirmation: I am 100% Polish, born and raised in Wroclaw, Poland, and I make pierogi every year. These are the real deal :)
Authentic Polish Pierogi Served on Christmas Eve
As I mentioned I make this type of Authentic Polish Pierogi every year….for Christmas. However, these aren’t the only variety out there; I also make pierogi with sauerkraut and mushrooms – which are far more typical for Christmas in Polish homes.
Yet, Pierogi with Potatoes and Cheese (Pierogi Ruskie) are also very popular and often cooked in Polish homes. So, long story short, I brought this culinary tradition with me to the US and every year I devote either a day or 2 to making my favorite Polish dishes for Christmas.
In an effort to perpetuate these traditions, I’ve been indoctrinating my new family (my husband and my in-laws) by annually hosting a Christmas Eve dinner. And while this effort to cultivate their palates to the full spectrum of my Polish Christmas menu at first was met with baby steps, I can honestly say that they’re all in full stride now.
Staples of this Christmas menu include:
- 2 kinds of pierogi (with potatoes and cheese and with sauerkraut and mushrooms),
- Red borsch (a clear beet soup) with uszka (ear pierogi),
- Bigos ( Polish Hunter’s stew) or Kapusta (Sauerkraut with Mushrooms),
- fish “Greek style” (funny that it’s dubbed ‘Greek’ because it’s a very Polish dish), and
- Salatka (a root vegetable/potato/egg salad to die for, also known as Russian Salad) or Polish Potato and Egg Salad with Pickles.
While I could do more, I’ve decided to limit it and still enjoy the process of cooking and sharing with my family.
Now that we have Gabe and Aiden, who are growing up way too fast (sorry for the cliche gang, but it’s true), who are half Polish, I really want them to experience some of Mommy’s, and therefore their own, traditions. So I try to supplement their diet with Polish dishes whenever I can. My older one really loves Polish Dill Pickle Soup!
Polish Christmas Traditions
As long as I’m talking about traditions I’d like to give you a little glimpse of how a Polish Christmas looked for me when I was growing up. Obviously, I’m saying “for me” because I know that almost every home had its own little differences.
In fact, I know that as some of my Polish friends read this post they’ll be saying that this or that looked different in their houses. For instance, there was a clear divide between the soup served. I’m aware that people either had borsch (my house) or mushroom soup. With that said, there were some hybrid houses that had both soups served.
And recently I found out that there was yet another type of soup gracing Christmas tables…sauerkraut and mushroom. These variations seemed to run with geographic regions (like Red & Blue states). So, as this one example attests, different parts of Poland had different traditions; but I can tell you that there were some universals for all Poles.
Christmas Eve dinner always kicked off the holidays. Dinner was served after the first star showed up in the sky and consisted of 12 dishes. However, atypical of most Polish meals, meat was prohibited from the Christmas Eve table. Rather, the ingredients which dominated tables were: fish, pierogi, mushrooms, sauerkraut, and cabbage.
The common dishes served on Christmas Eve would be:
- borsch with mushroom mini pierogi (kind of like a ravioli), mushroom soup,
- different varieties of pierogi (the most popular being with mushrooms and sauerkraut and pierogi ruskie),
- bigos without meat (hunter’s stew – sauerkraut with mushrooms, plums, tomatoes) or just sauerkraut with mushrooms,
- fish – Hearings served in different sauces, and the most popular being Karp. My family wasn’t a huge fan of Karp because it was so boney and therefore my mom always went with Trout. Our go-to was a whole trout stuffed with lemon and butter (OMG!).
I don’t know if you’re familiar with our Polish Karp tradition, but it seems to me that a number of people around the world have a vague familiarity with it, as I was asked about it a few times.
Anyhow if were to visit any community in Poland right before Christmas, you would find places everywhere selling “Live Karp.” As a kid, my own appreciation of this was that everyone was taking Karps home and letting them swim in the tub (cool right? a pet!). I knew nothing more than that. To this day I still question where these glorious pets would vanish to.
How to make Polish Pierogi Ruskie
But I digress, Pierogi are a different story. I always know where they start, and where they end. They start with potatoes, cheese, onions, spices, and with flour for the dough. I roll it, cut it into little round cutouts, insert a little ball of potatoes/cheese mixture, seal it, and there you go.
But let’s take it one step at a time (for exact measurements, instructions and nutritional information scroll down to a printable recipe):
Prepare the pierogi ruskie filling:
Step 1; Boil your starchy potatoes (medium yellow potatoes or russet potatoes) with salted water; drain, and mash either using a potato ricer or potato masher;
Step 2: In a frying pan, heat up some butter, oil, or ghee and fry up onions until almost brown (they will add a ton of flavor to the filling;
Step 3: Add framer cheese into the potatoes and mix well;
Step 4: Add fried onions, other cheeses, and spices to the potatoes/cheese mixture and mix well. Set the filling aside (The addition of blue cheese and cheddar is something new to me. It’s a simple trick from a very famous Polish chef. I tried it and it really elevates this dish to another level).
Prepare the pierogi dough:
Step 1: Pour the flour on a counter or other surface that will allow you to make the dough, add a pinch of salt, make a little hole in the middle and start adding milk and butter, add a little water at a time and work the dough until you can form a ball about 10-15 minutes; (Some people use egg for the dough. I tried all kinds of dough variations and in my opinion, mine is the most delicate. Egg tends to make the dough tougher. You can add an egg to the dough and reduce the amount of liquid).
Step 2: Once done, cover it with the big bowl and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes
Step 3: Roll the dough until thin (like pasta) and using either a cookie cutter or a large wine glass cut the circles; place 1 teaspoon of the fling in the middle of the circle, wet one half of the circle, and then seal it together;
Step 4: Boil a large pot of water and season with salt; once the water is boiling put about 8 pierogi at a time; once they come to the surface let them cook for 1 minute and using a spider or slotted spoon take them out on a plate;
Step 5: OPTIONAL: If you want to fry them as I did here, use 1 tablespoon of oil or ghee and fry pierogi on each side until golden brown. It’s best to dry them first before frying so they don’t splash.
For the pierogi toppings:
While this tradition mentioned above is alive, I no longer abide by the “no meat” on Christmas Eve mandate. So, often I sprinkle my pierogi with a little bit of chopped bacon, and likewise, I use sausage in my hunter’s stew. But I know that a lot of people are still very strict about this requirement.
Anyhow, the addition of meat is purely optional. For the featured version here of Authentic Polish pierogi, I did go with some chopped bacon.
Using separate pans add oil and onions and fry the onions until golden brown and bacon until crispy (you don’t need fat for bacon as it is already fatty);
Add onions and bacon on top of the pierogi and serve with sour cream.
Storing and freezing pierogi
If you are not serving pierogi immediately, take them out on a counter and let them cool down and dry a little bit. Make sure that they are not touching each other.
Once cooled, place them on a baking sheet, again at distance from each other, place them in a freezer and let them freeze. Once done, you can pack them in a plastic bag.
Now, I won’t lie here. When you’re new to the Pierogi-making business it can take a while to master them. Admittedly, they seem so easy, but when you get to the point where they have to be sealed, a lot of times you’ll find that they aren’t very cooperative. But practice makes perfect. It used to take me hours from start to finish.
Now I can be done in 2 hours with about 80 Pierogi – ready to serve. So, if you have the patience to learn how to make them, then go ahead and give them a try. Just don’t get discouraged the first time out. Even if it takes time, I can guarantee that they will taste delicious and you’ll be so proud of yourself that you will want to tell the whole world about them and the work you’ve done.
How to Alter this Recipe for Authentic Polish Pierogi:
- As mentioned above you can add an egg to your dough.
- I usually have no problem finding farmer cheese in local supermarkets in N.Y. but I know that it may be difficult to find. You can either buy Framer cheese on Amazon or use whole milk large curd cottage cheese (about 8 oz. but be careful because this cheese is more watery so your filling may become a little too soft);
- I added a little cheddar and blue cheese but they can be omitted;
- They can be served boiled or fried with just fried onions.
If you’re looking for more Polish recipes here are a couple of suggestions:
- Dill Pickle Soup – Traditional Polish Recipe
- Pierogi with Sauerkraut and Mushrooms from scratch:
- Kapusta – Sauerkraut with Mushrooms
- Cabbage and Kielbasa
- Bigos – Polish Hunter Stew
- Roasted Butternut Squash Feta Pierogi
- Polish Cucumber Salad – Mizeria
- Polish Fluffy Apple Pancakes
- Breton Beans (Fasolka po Bretonsku)
- Creamy Mushroom Sauce
I guess I’ve waited a lifetime to say, ‘hey world, here are Pierogi!!!!’ Without further adieu, I give you my super delicious Authentic Polish Pierogi with Potatoes and Cheese. Cheers!
And if you want to finish your dinner with some delicious treats, these Traditional Czech Linzer Cookies will be your new favourite.
Authentic Polish Pierogi with Potatoes and Cheese Recipe
For the filling:
- 5 Potatoes yellow, medium or 3 large russet potatoes
- 8 oz Farmer cheese
- 1 tablespoon Blue cheese (optional)
- 2 tablespoon Cheddar cheese (optional)
- 1 Onion sweet, yellow, large, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Onion powder
- 1 tablespoon Oil or ghee for onion
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the dough:
- 3 cups Whole purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Milk 2%, warm
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup Warm water (depending on how much your flour soaks)
- 1 tablespoon Butter melted, unsalted
- A little bit of kosher salt
For the toppings
- 1 Onion large, yellow, chopped
- 3 slabs Bacon chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup Sour cream
- 2 tablespoon Oil or ghee for frying
For the filling:
- Place potatoes in a pot, cover with water and cook until fork tender;
- In the meantime heat up the oil or ghee in a frying pan, add onions, and cook until golden brown;
- Once potatoes are cooked, using a potato ricer or potato masher, mashed potatoes so they don't have lumps;
- Add farmer cheese and mix together;
- Add onions, other cheeses, spices, salt, and pepper and mix well.
For the dough:
- Pour the flour on a counter or other surface that will allow you to make the dough;
- Add a pinch of salt;
- Make a little hole in the middle and start adding milk and butter;
- Add a little water at a time and work the dough until you can form a ball about 10-15 minutes;
- Once done, cover it with the big bowl and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes;
- Roll the dough until thin (like pasta) and using either a cookie cutter or a large wine glass cut the circles;
- Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the circle;
- Wet one half of the circle and then seal it together;
- Boil a large pot of water and season with salt;
- Once the water is boiling put about 8 pierogi at a time;
- Once they come to the surface let them cook for 1 minute and using a spider or slotted spoon take them out on a plate;
- If you want to fry them as I did here, use 1 tablespoon of oil or ghee and fry pierogi on each side until golden brown;
For the toppings:
- Using separate pans add oil and onions and fry the onions until golden brown and bacon until crispy (you don't need fat for bacon as it is already fatty);
- Add onions and bacon on top of the pierogi and serve with sour cream.
2. Addition of blue cheese and cheddar is something new to me. It's a simple trick from a very famous Polish chef. I tried it and it really elevates this dish to another level.
3. If you are not serving pierogi immediately, take them out on a counter and let them cool down and dry a little bit. Make sure that they are not touching each other. Once cooled, place them on a baking sheet, again at distance from each other, place in a freezer, and let them freeze. Once done, you can pack them in a plastic bag.
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