Pierogi — our family tradition
Christmas Eve in our family, as Elysabeth and now Marc can attest to, is THE MOTHER of all HOLIDAYS for us. In Polish it is is Boze Narodzenia (Christmas Eve) and there are many traditions that are associated with this night. We don’t adhere to the strictly traditional customs of the Polish Christmas Eve, but we have a hybrid of some of the traditions. Christmas Eve for our family is quite literally our biggest holiday, and it always consists of going to church as a family. We follow this by sharing Oplatki (which is a wafer) reserved for Christmas, where we wish each other health and happiness. After that, we eat A LOT of food.
The centerpiece of the meal, which has graced the Christmas table of our family since the very beginning is Pierogi. I have joined the ranks of the women in my family who make this holiday favorite. Pierogi can be filled with a variety of things, most traditionally cheese or sauerkraut. I have experimented with blueberry pierogi, after recently having had some in Poland. For our holiday feast, we always opt for the cheese or sauerkraut ones.
I will work to walk you through the process… This recipe makes 15 pierogi but when we make them for the holidays, we make a lot. When I first started making the pierogi with my family, we made about 500 to have on hand throughout the year, but this year, my faithful roommate Abi and I made 130 sauerkraut ones (in Arlington, VA) and my Aunt Mary and her crew (in Wisconsin!) made 110 cheese ones.
Pierogi (makes 15)
- 2 egg whites, beaten
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1-1/3 c. flour (this is an approximate amount)
- 1/3 c. milk
- 1 lb. Baker’s dry cottage cheese (or ricotta, if this is not available)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1-2 tbsp. onions, fried in butter
- salt and pepper
- 1/4-1/2 c. bread crumbs
- 1 can of sauerkraut, drained
- 1 tbsp. caraway seeds
- Bacon (optional)
- Begin by making the dough. Beat egg whites. Add 1 cup flour. (Only start by adding one cup of flour because you do not want the dough to get too stiff–more flour will be added with the dough is kneaded). Add salt ad milk to make the dough soft.
- Knead well. Roll dough out on a floured board or countertop. You will need to work the dough a little bit at a time to make manageable pieces to roll out.
- Prep the filling of your choice by mixing all ingredients together in a separate bowl.
- Place stuffing on rolled out dough. Fold over and press. Cut each pierogi out, trying to make each piece as uniform as possible.
- Boil in salt water, approximately five minutes, until pierogi float to the top.
- Drain and let cool on a lightly buttered (or cooking-sprayed) cookie sheet.
- To transport, layer in a container with chopped onion and butter.
- Before serving, bake at 375 for approximately an hour, or until warmed through.
Thank you for sharing the pierogi-making process with me! I hope that you enjoy making these yourself, and as we would say in Polish, Smacznego (or, eat heartily!!).
Wesolych Swiat (Merry Christmas) to one and all!