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HOMEMADE PIEROGI: History, Fun Facts and Gram's Authentic Recipe

What is Pierogi, Pirohi, Pyrohy, Pirogi, Pierogie?

No matter what spelling variant you use, you must try an authentic homemade Pierogi!

A pierogi is unleavened dough that is traditionally stuffed with mashed potato filling and/or other ingredients such as cheese, sauerkraut, cabbage, mushrooms, spinach, ground beef and even fruit for a dessert version depending on the cook's preferences. They are then boiled, baked or fried.

Pierogi are usually semicircular, but are rectangular and triangular in some cuisines. The concept is similar to the Italian ravioli and the Chinese potsticker.

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Where Did Pierogi Originate?

Researching the history of pierogi is a difficult task as many ethnic groups claim to be the birthplace of the pierogi. Therefore, its origins are not easily traced yet it has been widely accepted as being Polish. I agree, because my Polish Grandmother made the BEST Pierogi and therefore, I am most familiar with pierogi as a Polish tradition.

Grandma’s favorite pierogi fillings included mashed potatoes, cheese & onions and mashed potatoes & sauerkraut; boiled and then fried in real butter, onions and salt; then topped with sour cream. Yum, yum, yum! She also made prune pierogi for those who liked (or needed) to eat prunes.

The Polish word pierogi is plural. The singular form of the word is pierog. To me, that just sounds silly. “I ate a pierog for lunch today.” Seriously, who eats just one pierog??? Not anyone in my family!

The United States has the most developed pierogi market because it was the destination of choice for the majority of Eastern European immigrants prior to, and during, World War II. (Canada was second.)

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Making pierogi in a church kitchen!

Making pierogi in a church kitchen!

Ethnic Pierogi

I do realize that not everyone knows what a pierogi is . . . but not here where I live in Ohio. Within walking distance is a neighborhood recently dedicated as Ukrainian Village. And then there is nearby Slavic Village. And so many other ethnic neighborhoods that you don’t have to go far to find a variation of this dough filled treat.

Pierogi are a staple offered at ethnic church carnivals, bazaars, fundraisers and bingo nights. And they are a popular side item with fish-fry dinners during the Lenten season.

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Don't Miss This Special Event!

Whitting, Indiana’s Annual Pierogi Fest held annually the last full weekend in July. There are tons of fun activities including a Polka Parade, a Mr. Pierogi songfest, a pierogi toss, a pierogi eating contest, and more. They even have a Polish Idol singing contest where contestants choose from a preapproved list of songs all about food. This festival draws almost 200,000 people each year! CHECK IT OUT http://www.pierogifest.net/

Whitting, Indiana's Annual Pierogi Fest

Whitting, Indiana's Annual Pierogi Fest

Did You Know?

  • Pierogi have been made in Poland since the 13th century.
  • The word pierogi first appeared in Polish literature in the second half of the 17th century and was prepared only for holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
  • Ted Twardzik Sr. founded Mrs. T’s Pierogies October 8, 1952, producing the first samples for a local grocery store. Mrs. T’s remains the largest producer of (frozen) pierogi in the U.S. (although I am positive that the commercial versions are not the same as Grandma’s)
  • Pierogi became a popular “food for athletes” when Paula Newby-Fraser claimed them as her food of choice in the 1980’s while preparing for the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. Many athletes began using pierogi as an alternative to boost their carbohydrate intake.
  • There really is a Mrs. T – Ted’s Mother, Mary Twardzik.
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  • According to Mrs. T’s, there is a geographical region dubbed the “Pierogi Pocket” which makes up approximately 68% of pierogi consumption in the U.S. This pocket includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Chicago, Detroit, parts of the northern Midwest and southern New England.

Pittsburgh Pirates Pierogi Race

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More Fun Facts About Pierogi

  • The Pittsburgh Pirates home baseball games always include a “pierogi race” with people dressed up as pierogi.
  • Ten students from a catering school in Poland were entered into the Guinness World Records Book for making 1,663 pierogi (90 pounds) in 100 minutes.
  • In the early 1990’s, a 25-foot, 6,000 pound, roadside tribute to the pierogi was erected in the village of Glendon in Alberta Canada. There is also an annual "Pyrohy Festival" held on the first Saturday of September.
  • In November 2005, a woman claimed she had an image of Jesus Christ seared into the side of a pierogi she made. Her family placed the pierogi on eBay and netted $1,775. Of course, this was much less than the $28,000 netted for a grilled cheese sandwich on eBay with a vision of the Virgin Mary on it.
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My Grandmother's Authentic Pierogi Recipe

There is nothing better than making your own authentic homemade pierogi. Depending on how many pierogi you are planning on making, it can be time consuming BUT SO WORTH IT.

Why not get a small group together and spend the day making pierogi. Have fun and make enough to freeze for later too.

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Grandma's Pierogi Dough (makes approx. 12-15)

  • 2 C. flour
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ C. sour cream (this used to be Gram’s secret but everyone does it now)
  • ¼ C. butter softened (cut in small pieces)

To prepare the dough, mix the flour and salt together. Beat the egg and add to the flour mixture. Add sour cream and softened butter and kneed (Grandma used her hands) for about 5 minutes until it loses its stickiness. A mixer with a dough hook can be used but be sure not to over mix it. It needs to be a consistency that is easy to roll out. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The dough can be kept for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Roll out the pierogi dough on a floured surface until it is about 1/8” thick. Use a round cookie cutter or drinking glass to cut out circles of dough approximately 3” in diameter.

Filling recipe is below. Place a small ball of filling (approx. 1 tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over to form a semi-circle. Press the edges together with your fingers to ensure a good seal. You can decorate the edges with the tines of a fork if you wish. If the edges are not sticking together, it may be because there is too much flour on the dough. Add a little water to help get a good seal.

Place pierogi in a large pot of boiling water, maybe 6 or so at a time, for about 8-10 minutes. You will know they are done when they float to the top. Remove and let cool on a cookie sheet.

How Grandma would serve her pierogi: Chop onions and sauté in butter in a large frying pan until the onions are tender. Add cooked pierogi and fry until lightly browned. Serve with the onions and a side of sour cream. Enjoy!

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Grandma's Potato, Cheese & Onion Pierogi Filling

  • 5 large potatoes
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 T. butter
  • 8 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper

To make the pierogi filling, peel and boil 5 large potatoes until soft. Grandma used red potatoes. While the potatoes are boiling, finely chop 1 large onion and sauté in butter until tender and translucent. Mash the potatoes with the sautéed onions and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the potato mixture cool. The consistency should be thick where you can roll it into a ball if you wish.

THERE ARE ENDLESS IDEAS FOR PIEROGI FILLINGS. GET CREATIVE AND HAVE FUN!

This is Sharyn's Slant


Preview To Making Your Own Pierogi

Comments

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 21, 2020:

Sounds really good Wayne!

Wayne Kleinschmidt on October 19, 2020:

My Grandmother used sausage, potatoes, and sauerkraut for the filling.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 30, 2020:

Hi Kalpana,

I really hope you try it. It is fun trying foods from other cultures. I appreciate your stopping by!

Kalpana Iyer from India on September 29, 2020:

I have never heard about Pierogis. It is always so interesting to learn about new cuisines. I should try this out at home. I am always game for anything that has potatoes! We (I am from India) make something similar but it is more of a sweet dish with coconut shredding and cane sugar filling.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 26, 2018:

Hi Vicki, I've heard of the Picklefest although I wouldn't care for them in pierogies lol. So glad you enjoyed this article! Thanks!

Sharyn

Vicki Wood from Eldon, Missouri on July 25, 2018:

thank you so much for this informative article. I will use this recipe. I just came back to Missouri from New York, picking up pierogi all the way. The best I had were in Pittsburg at picklefest. They made them with the usual filling with dill pickle relish in the filling too. amazing!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on December 25, 2015:

Hello ddsurfsca! You made me lol ~ 15 miles from being Polish, I love it! Merry Christmas!

deb douglas from Oxnard on December 24, 2015:

my grandma , mother and I made these every christmas eve, but I couldnt remember what went in the dough, or how to spell it!! I am making them right now --family tradition.....

We are slovak, but my grandma used to tell me that we were only 15 miles from being Polish....ha

thanks for the recipie...i wrote it down

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on December 19, 2015:

Hi Ellen,

Wow, your family sure has the Pierogi history! I am now craving them after reading your comments. Your variety of fillings sound delicious. And I did not know about the Sox games, that is awesome! Thank you so much for your feedback. Happy Holidays to you!

Sharyn

ellen on December 19, 2015:

My Czech (next to poland) family made pierogi always. Mom made them with 3 cherries in each or chopped peaches or apricots in season, strawberries, plums. Sometimes served with applesauce & sour cream. The non-fruit were often served with sour cream & crisp fried bacon bits. We usually had sauerkraut (with caraway seeds) fried in butter with onions & sour cream & bacon crisps. Also had beef shredded with chopped mushrooms, or any other meat/veg combo my mom had on hand. Times were tough sometimes & she was very resourceful. Nothing was wasted. And never had left over pierogi EVER! I always wanted a recipe but never got the chance. Now I can teach my kids & granddaughter too. Thanks for the recipe. Btw, did you know they are sold at the Chicago White Sox baseball games too? Planning on going to the Fest next July. Also there is a Houbi, say ho-bee, (mushroom) parade / festival every. Year in Berwyn Illinois on Chicago's southwest suburb. And a pierogi festival in Bridgeview Illinois every year too where they sell pierogi. ENJOY!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on December 12, 2014:

Hi PoetryMan ~ Ha ha, that would be awesome. I guess that means that you enjoy pierogies! Thanks so much for stopping by! Happy Holidays!

Sharyn

poetryman6969 on December 10, 2014:

Sometimes I wish I could have the hub ladies as my own private cooks!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on January 06, 2013:

You are welcome - thanks for stopping by again!

The Logician from then to now on on January 01, 2013:

Thanks for such an appetizing hub page and Happy New Year 2!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on January 01, 2013:

Hi tsadjatko ~ That's cool to get them at half price and freeze them. But you know it's not the same as homemade right in your kitchen! I'm sorry, I do not know of a gluten free pierogi recipe. My family has been thinking more about gluten free lately so if I find one, I will contact you. Thank you so much for stopping by. Happy New Year!

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on January 01, 2013:

Hi YourCounsins ~ Thanks for the compliments. I hope you try my gram's recipe. Happy New Year!

Sharyn

The Logician from then to now on on December 30, 2012:

Pierogies have long been a favorite of ours! Twice a year our grocery puts them on sale at half price and we fill the freezer then! Nothin' like home made though.

~btw~ do you have a recipe for gluten free pierogies? - I can't eat them any more because of wheat alergy.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on December 29, 2012:

Hiya CC ~ YES, you did tell me and I am so thrilled that you loved them. I believe you said your hubby loved them too. Thank you for your great feedback!

Sharyn

Your Cousins from Atlanta, GA on December 29, 2012:

It was fun learning about pierogi and I can't wait to taste it. Plus, I love the versatility!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on December 29, 2012:

Did I tell you I made this stuff? It was MMM MMM good! I am glad to come across this again so I can make some more!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 05, 2012:

Hey Vicki ~ thanks for the compliments and pinning of this article too. Very much appreciated!

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 05, 2012:

Hello ptrg777 ~ great to meet you and welcome to HubPages. I'm glad you enjoyed this article. Thank you so much for stopping by.

Sharyn

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on September 05, 2012:

Yum! and what a pretty hub! Very well laid out. Pinning this recipe!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 05, 2012:

Hi Ruth ~ Thank you so much for stopping by to read and comment. Very much appreciated.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 05, 2012:

Hi Anamika ~ Pierogi are pretty easy to make, just time consuming if you are making a lot of them. But they freeze well. Thanks for stopping by and pinning for future use.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 05, 2012:

Hi tillsontitan ~ Oh, I hope there is a way to tweak the recipe. It's so much fun making your own. Thanks for stopping by, sharing and pinning too. Very much appreciated!

Sharyn

Peter from New York on September 05, 2012:

Love Pierogi's ! This is a great and simple recipe. Thank you for providing this!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 05, 2012:

Hi jennzie ~ I'm glad you enjoyed the facts about pierogi and the recipe too. I appreciate you stopping by, thank you!

Sharyn

Ruth Pieterse on September 05, 2012:

Lovely. Voted up and useful.

Anamika S Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on September 05, 2012:

Never heard of this one before. But this sounds easy to make. Pinned for future use.

Mary Craig from New York on September 05, 2012:

I never thought of making my own! Now that I have celiac I'll have to play around to get the right dough but I do love periogi! Thank you for this great hub and recipes.

Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting. Sharing with my followers and pinning.

Jenn from Pennsylvania on September 05, 2012:

Interesting facts about pierogies, and your grandmother's recipe looks delicious! Voted up.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 04, 2012:

Hi Scribenet ~ you like pierogi EXACTLY how I do. But you've got to try making them from scratch. Big difference and you'll be so proud of yourself. Thank you so much for stopping by!

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 04, 2012:

Hi Shasta ~ I do like the Mrs. T's brand in a pinch. But I really like when then taste like my Gram's homemade pierogi the best. Thanks for your feedback.

Sharyn

Maggie Griess from Ontario, Canada on September 04, 2012:

I love perogi, boiled, then fried in butter until golden brown and served with the fried onions and sour cream. I have never made from scratch, but now I have a time tested recipe. Thank you!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 04, 2012:

Hi Ruchira ~ gosh, I can't believe how many people have not heard of Pierogi. It really does amaze me. Could be because we made and ate them often as long as I can remember. It is similar to ravioli in how they are made but very different in taste. Thanks for stopping by.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 04, 2012:

Cyndi ~ It does not matter if you live in the "pierogi belt." And you have fresh potatoes from your garden, wow, that will be awesome. I hope you do try to make them. I'm sure you'll love them and so will your hubby. Thanks so much for your feedback!

Sharyn

Shasta Matova from USA on September 04, 2012:

We have a large Jewish population, and Mrs. T's are in the kosher section of the grocery store. I have tried them, and they are so delicious! I really like the idea of making my own and customizing them to my tastes. Thanks for the recipe.

Ruchira from United States on September 04, 2012: