On Saturday I had friends over to the Bachelor Bastion* for a Pagan Perogy Party. Why Pagan? No reason, really, except that it was close to the summer solstice and it made for nice alliteration.
Growing up, our freezer was always well stocked with my mom’s homemade perogies but I’ve only started making them myself in recent years. I’ve made them a few times but I’m still working on my technique. This was, by far, my most ambitious attempt – four kinds, in quantities to feed eight for dinner.
Here’s my mom’s dough recipe:
In case you can’t read it,
- 4 cups flour
- 1 egg
- 1 3/4 cups warm water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup melted butter
Beat egg, add melted butter (her recipe says margarine) and warm water. Add to flour and salt. Mix. Knead. Oil dough and let rest.
Just to elaborate a bit: you can knead the dough in a stand mixer, using the dough hook, for about 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and be smooth and elastic and not tacky to the touch (incorporate more flour if it’s sticky). Do not overwork the dough or it will be tough. This recipe makes enough dough for about 5 dozen perogies.
I made a few batches during the week and froze them – potato & cottage cheese and sauerkraut.
- 5 medium potatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- Melted butter for frying
- 1 cup dry curd cottage cheese
- Salt and pepper
Peel and boil the potatoes. Drain and let cool. Fry the chopped onion in butter on medium heat until it begins to brown. Mash the potatoes, stir in fried onions and butter. Stir in cottage cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the filling cool before using (you can refrigerate it for several days).
I didn’t have a recipe for the other fillings – I just winged it. Though I like the more traditional fillings, you can put anything you like in perogies. Don’t sweat the measurements – do what tastes good.
For the sauerkraut filling, I chopped and fried an onion in butter and added a large jar of sauerkraut, well drained and chopped. I seasoned with salt & pepper and stirred in a bit of sour cream. Betty Cracker (above) said that she doesn’t like sauerkraut by itself but loves sauerkraut perogies.
On the day, we gathered in afternoon to make mushroom and Saskatoon perogies.
For the mushroom filling I used 1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms (you can use any kind you like). Chop them finely and sauté with chopped onion in butter. Cook them, stirring occasionally, until all the water evaporates – about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cool. Add chopped dill and stir in sour cream.
For Saskatoon filling, all you do is toss the berries with some sugar and cornstarch. You can use fresh or frozen berries (if frozen, don’t thaw – they’re easier to work with that way).
King Crabby thinks Saskatoons are something you have to be from the prairies to love. I think King Crabby is a west coast snob. I will agree that they’re not so tasty raw – they’re kind of mealy and flavourless – but in baked in a pie or cooked in perogies they come alive.
Stuffing perogies is the hard part – a skill that needs to be mastered. The trick is to keep the filling in the centre of the dough – don’t let it touch the sides or they won’t seal properly. And make sure to seal the edges well or the fillings will fall out in the pot when you boil them and you’ll end up with a mess.
We started off making triangular perogies, but switched to circles which my friends found easier to work with (see my perogy shape rant here).
To boil, bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add the perogies gently (you don’t want to scald yourself) while stirring so they don’t settle on the bottom. Don’t crowd the pot – cook one to two dozen at a time.
The perogies will rise to the top after a minute or two. When they do, let them boil for a few more minutes. Freshly made perogies cook quickly – about 3 to 5 minutes. Frozen perogies will take a little longer, of course – the water will need to come to a boil again after you add them.
Drain them in a colander and toss in a large bowl with lots and lots of butter to keep them from sticking together. If you’re making more than one batch, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and let the water come to a boil again before adding the next batch.
For beginners (most of us), we did really well. Nothing came apart in the pot, and the perogies were tender and delicious, especially when drowned in butter, fried onions and sour cream.
Truly Scrumptious brought a lovely green salad sprinkled with marigold petals which made me question if they were edible. Short answer: Yes, if by edible you mean you won’t fall down dead immediately after eating them. Not all varieties are tasty though – most are bitter.
In any case, they make a beautiful garnish.
Afterwards, we took a walk in the ravine…
where we danced naked under the midnight sun,
built a wicker effigy,
and sacrificed a virgin,
before returning to the Bastion to tuck into Jane Fondant’s delightful lemon soufflé.
*I named my house Bachelor Bastion after reading this passage from the introduction to The Playboy Gourmet (1961), allegedly written by Hugh Hefner:
“For those inured to the curlicue-carrot, calorie-crazed, calico-kitchencraft magazines, or to the truffle-happy, hummingbird-tongue sensibilities of those finicky-fussy food journals for dyspeptic epicures, this book may come as something of a shock – but also, it is hoped, as a hearty change of diet. In an increasingly womanized society, the domain of the chef – male since time immemorial – has been invaded en masse by chintz-aproned housewives. But today’s well-rounded urban male, safe in his bachelor bastion with THE PLAYBOY GOURMET in hand, can still wield the spatula and twirl the swizzle stick with style and dash.”