20 October 2007

pierogi part 1

My mom and I are going to make gluten-free pierogi! (We hope Babci doesn't mind us using an untraditional recipe. I'm sure she'd want me to be eating pierogi in any form that I can.)

We went back and forth through cookbooks, wondering if we should use a gf ravioli recipe for the dough or if we should use a more traditional pierogi recipe and substitute a gf flour mix. My mom couldn't remember the exact recipe her grandmother used off the top of her head, except to know that the recipes we were finding did not use any potato in the dough and she knows Babci used potato. We decided to use one of the pasta recipes in Bette Hagman's Gluten-Free Gourmet Revised Edition. It at least uses potato starch. (And if our pierogi are a tad lighter and healthier than the old-fashioned kind, then I guess we can just eat more of them!)

This morning we worked on fillings. We will make some with a traditional potato-cheese filling. I boiled and mashed a pound of potatoes and mixed in some farmers' cheese to taste. I also added a small bit of sauteed onions and a dash of pepper. (The cheese was salty enough; I didn't want to add more.)

We will also make some with untraditional fillings. While looking for pierogi recipes in The Joy of Cooking I found a winter squash ravioli stuffing. Yum! I had two small delicata squashes, so I baked them and mashed them. I added a small amount of the farmers' cheese and dashes of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. You don't want your pierogi filling to be too moist and mushy so I may need to add some flour or starch to thicken up the otherwise watery squash.

And off the cuff we're thinking of dicing some Aidell's mango sausage and mixing it up with some rice and melty sharp cheddar cheese.

Pierogi can easily take a whole weekend to make, especially if you're making the tradional seemingly thousands of them (enough to freeze and reheat 3 meals a day all winter long, plus have a huge feast of them at Christmas time). We made the potato and squash fillings this morning and will prepare the sausage and rice filling just before we start on the dough (the sausage is pre-cooked). Rolling out the dough and making all those little circles takes forever, and then it takes forever again to fill them and seal them. (That's why you have an army of children work on them, assembly-line style.)

This evening my kitchen will be a pierogi factory, with just my mom and I as the workers. I remember this being quite exhausting as a child. If you don't see Part 2 appear in a few days, send for help.

(P.S. By "traditional" I mean what my babci would have done, or my memory of what she did. Your babci may have completely different recipes and techniques.)

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