Donna-Marie Pye is a best-selling cookbook author that has been cooking -and chatting about cooking – for many years. Along with fellow culinary enthusiast Maria Burjoski they own their own cooking school and share their passion for great food with others.
She holds a Bachelor in Applied Science in Food and Nutrition from Ryerson University, a diploma in Public Relations from York University and has taken cooking courses around the world. She is a member of the Ontario Home Economics Association and Ontario Home Economists In Business.
There’s no question that everyone loves pierogies. For many, the pierogi conjures up images of mashed potatoes stuffed inside a pocket of dough and served with fried onions and a dollop of sour cream on the side. But anyone who comes from an Eastern European background will tell you that they are absolutely delicious when stuffed with a variety of fillings, such as sauerkraut, fruit, or even meat.
A few years ago, some friends and I got together one snowy winter afternoon with a lovely lady from Berlin, Germany to teach us how to make these tender dumplings. While we did fill ours with potatoes, it was the meat filling I experimented with afterwards that my family has come to crave.
This pork and mushroom filling is one of my favourite ways to make pierogies. It’s important to brown the meat thoroughly in order to really develop the flavour. It may even stick to the pan a little, but once you add the soy sauce, it will lift off all the browning that has developed. You really can’t over season here. The dough is relatively bland and the meat has to work a little harder to make an impression. Taste and taste again before it’s finished—and don’t be afraid to add a little more dill or garlic, if that’s the way you like it.
Pierogies can be frozen for a meal at a later date. It’s best to freeze them before you boil them—I like to package up about a dozen at a time. Of course, you will need to boil them before pan frying, but there is no need to thaw first—just drop the frozen pierogies into boiling salted water. It may take a few minutes longer than cooking them from fresh, but they will still be just as good.
While simple boiled pierogies are delicious, the meat-filled ones are especially worthy cooked a second time—browned in vegetable oil or butter until they’re an even gold colour. Topped with caramelized onions and a little sour cream, all you need to finish this satisfying supper is a tossed salad on the side.
Pork and mushroom pierogies with caramelized onions
Yield: Makes 36 to 40 pierogies
Prep Time: 40 minutes (plus resting time)
Cook Time: 5 to 6 minutes
Note: If cooking from frozen, do not thaw first. Drop pierogies into boiling water and allow them to float to the surface. Continue with recipe as directed.
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups full fat (14% M.F) sour cream (do not use low fat sour cream)
Pork and mushroom filling:
1 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp EACH: dried thyme and sweet paprika
1 1/4 lbs lean ground Ontario pork
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 oz white button mushrooms, wiped clean and finely chopped
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp EACH: chopped fresh dill and flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 Tbsp butter, for sautéing
2 Tbsp vegetable oil for sautéing
3 large onions, sliced
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Make pierogi dough:
- Place flour in a large bowl. Add sour cream and stir until the dough begins to come together.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead gently with your fingertips, lifting the dough off the counter and dropping it down (the dropping technique is key for delicate and pliable dough), taking care not to overwork it. Knead until the ingredients are blended and the dough is slightly smooth on the outside and slightly sticky when poked, about 2 to 5 minutes.
- Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic, and let rest for at least 20 minutes while you are making the filling.
Make the filling:
- Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and paprika. Cook until the onions are soft, about 2 minutes.
- Crumble the ground pork into the pan, breaking up the chunks. Sauté the mixture until the liquid starts to evaporate and the pork loses its pink colour, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. The mixture will start to brown and may stick slightly to the bottom of the pan. This is essential for flavour; just continue stirring.
- Add the mushrooms and soy sauce and cook until the mushroom juices have almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the dill and parsley. Taste again and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside to cool while you roll out the pierogi dough.
Shape and fill the pierogies:
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, using lightly floured hands, pinch 1 Tbsp portions of the dough and roll them into balls, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You should end up with 36 to 40 balls. With a rolling pin or dowel, gently roll out each ball into a 3 x 3 1/2-inch round disk, about 1/8-inch thick on a well floured surface. Keep the dough balls and disks covered as you work so they won’t dry out.
- Stir the meat mixture again just before filling. Hold a round of dough flat in your palm, dust off the excess flour, and spoon a generous tablespoon of the filling onto the centre of the dough.
- Fold the round in half to enclose the filling. Seal the pierogi by pulling the edges away from the filling and pinching them together. To ensure a proper seal, pinch the edge with a fork. Set the filled pierogi on a baking sheet and cover with a dry towel until they are all filled. (Pierogies can be frozen at this point).
Cooking the pierogies:
- Once the water is boiling, drop the pierogies in batches, stirring occasionally. When they float to the top, cook for another 2 to 4 minutes.
- Heat the butter and oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. With a slotted spoon, remove pierogies from the boiling water. Without crowding the pan, add the drained pierogies and cook until golden brown and puffy on both sides.
- Serve with caramelized onions and a dollop of sour cream.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook over medium heat until they begin to turn translucent, about 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes or until onions have begun to turn brown.
- Add vinegar and sugar and cook 5 to 7 minutes longer until onions are glazed and sugar has completely melted.