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Nomad Ann

Passport & Plate - Piotr's Abused Pierogi

Australia | Saturday, 8 March 2014 | 5 photos

Balsamic Caramalised Onions

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large red onions, sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Pumpkin Pierogi
500g pumpkin
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup ricotta
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

2 eggs
5 tbs sour cream
3 tbs veg oil
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup chicken broth or vegetable stock
4 cups flour


How to prepare this recipe
Balsamic Caramalised Onions

Heat oil in a large fry pan over low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook very slowly for 15-20 minutes, stirring. When onions are softened and tinged golden, add sugar and balsamic. Cook onion over low heat for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sticky and caramelised.

Pumpkin Pierogi
In large saucepan over medium-low heat, cook pumpkin and olive oil, stirring occasionally, until fork tender. Puree and mix with other ingredients. Set aside to cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sour cream oil, salt and broth/stock until well mixed. Add flour and knead (this is much easier with an electric mixer!) until the dough is smooth. Wrap with plastic and let rest in the fridge for at least 10 minutes. Roll out the dough as thin as you can (a few millimeters if possible). Using a cookie cutter or any large rimmed cup (I used a cocktail shaker!) cut out rounds and fill with filling. Don’t overfill! You can use a fork to crimp the edges if desired. Roll the dough scraps back into a ball and roll out again. Repeat until all the dough is used. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Carefully drop pierogi in – when they float to the surface, they are finished cooking.

Serve pierogi on a bed of rocket leaves, topped with caramalised onions.

Tip: There’s lots you can do with any leftover filling you might have. I made these open faced pies topped with bocconcini (picture attached)


The story behind this recipe
During Xmas in Bolivia, I found myself sharing a house with an Argentinean couple, a French Canadian, and a Polish. Socialising with so many language barriers can prove challenging, so food quickly became our common denominator. Alex the French-Canadian prepared most of the meals since he was an excellent cook. Piotr the Polish, on the other hand, was definitely more an eater than a cook. I doubt he’d ever made a meal in his life. Which is why it came as a surprise when he announced his intention to make pierogi for Xmas. Hence began a three-day pierogi boot camp with the blind leading the blind. At the helm at this sinking ship was the least experienced cook, and of his well-meaning, yet inept crew, I was the only one who had ever even tasted pierogi.
Predictably, it was a disaster. The dough would not stick. Piotr was livid. He accused the insolent dough for its lack of pliability. He chastised the disobedient flour for its course texture. He interrogated the eggs, which were of questionable freshness. This person, who had previously shown no interest in cooking, had suddenly become pierogi obsessed. It was pretty clear what was going on - homesickness. Missing his friends and family was compounded by the holiday season, and the perfect pierogi became the vehicle through which Piotr paid tribute to his loved ones back home.
We tried again and failed. And when we got the dough right, the filling was wrong. Piotr looked ready to cry.
It is the most heartbreaking thing in the world when you catch a strong person in a weak moment.
Improvising, we resurrected the filling with garlic and soy sauce, rendering them tasty, if not authentic. With relief, the mission was complete. It wasn’t perfect, but that’s ok. That‘s the lesson the kitchen teaches you – that it’s ok to fail, because nothing broken can’t be fixed. Did Piotr learn the lesson? Who cares. 3 days and much heartache later, he got his precious pierogi, and that’s good enough for me.

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