I have a real love and fascination for these little Polish pillows. When my maternal grandparents came to the UK from the ghettos of Warsaw in the 1930s, just like many other immigrants, as Anglophiles they assimilated as best they could into their new life. Where they did stick firmly to their Polish ways, however was in cooking. My grandmother died before I was born, so I never had the opportunity to try her pierogi firsthand and have just had to settle for secondhand instruction.
I spent a long time experimenting with alternative Ashkenazi-style flavors in order to create a unique and tasty pierogi that my grandmother would have been proud of. The combination of salt beef, mustard, and dill is a classic one, and works really well when dipped into the accompanying dill and mustard sauce.
This recipe is excerpted from Fress: Bold Flavors from a Jewish Kitchen, © 2017 by Emma Spitzer. Reproduced by permission of Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved.
For the Dough
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading, if needed, and dusting
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- vegetable oil, for shallow-frying
For the Filling
- 1 cup cooled mashed potatoes
- 2¼ oz pastrami, chopped into small pieces
- 3 Tbsp drained sauerkraut
- ½ cucumber pickle spear, finely chopped
- 1 tsp prepared English mustard
- ½ tsp celery salt
- pinch of sea salt, or to taste
For the Dill and Mustard Sauce
- 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- ½ cup canola oil
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped dill
- ½ tsp sea salt
- pinch of ground white pepper (optional)
Note: This recipe is not kosher. If you want to make it kosher, you can replace the butter with margarine or coconut oil and the sour cream with non-dairy sour cream. You could also leave the pastrami out of the filling.
- Start by making the dough. If you have a food processor, add all the ingredients to it and pulse until the mixture comes together into a sticky dough. If making by hand, add the flour and salt to a bowl. Using your fingertips, gently work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs, then mix in the egg and sour cream to make a dough.
- Knead the dough using your fingertips on a floured work surface for 5 minutes, adding a little more flour if it is too sticky. Seal in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes until you prepare the filling.
- Mix all the ingredients for the filling together in a large bowl and check for seasoning.
- Roll out the pierogi dough on a heavily floured work surface until 1/16 inch thick. Using a 3½-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles from the dough, re-rolling the trimmings to make more circles.
- Place a heaped tsp of the filling in the center of each circle. Fold over to make a semicircle, then dampen your fingers with water and seal the edges.
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, drop in the peirogi, in batches, and boil for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a dish cloth.
- Meanwhile, to make the sauce, mix the mustard and vinegar together in a bowl. Add the oil in a very slow trickle, whisking constantly, until it has all been incorporated, then stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet and fry the pierogi, in batches, for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- Serve the crispy pierogi hot with the sauce on the side for dipping.
- You can omit the last step of frying and just enjoy the pierogi boiled.
- The pierogi freeze beautifully—just place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and open freeze them before sealing them in a resealable plastic freezer bag.