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All About Polish Pierogi

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Polish Pierogi

Fried Polish Pierogi

(c) 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.

Dumplings are like people. They come in all shapes, sizes and ethnic origins.

Poles call them pierogi, Jews have their kreplach and knishes. Russians have their pelmeni and piroshki, Ukrainians call them varenyky

, the Chinese have their potstickers and wontons, and Italians have ravioli. In fact, many Americans refer to pierogi as Polish ravioli.

And, beyond providing sustenance, their sole purpose in life seems to be to give the tummy a big hug, like a pat on the hand from mom when you're having a bad day. "That's all right dear, things will get better."

Pierogi dough can be as simple as a flour-egg-water combination or made with sour cream, cream cheese, potatoes or be dairy- and egg-free. Pierogi fillings range from vegetables to meat, fish, fruit, and sweet or savory cheese.

In the United States, many church groups make them on Fridays year-round as fundraisers. If you can't avail yourselves of such a church group in your area, know that homemade pierogi aren't as difficult to make as you might think. Pierogi dough is rolled to a 1/8-inch thickness, cut with a 3-inch round, filled, folded over, sealed and crimped, and then cooked by boiling or frying.

It's a fun rainy-day project and terrific to do with the kids or grandkids, especially if done in steps. Make the dough one day, roll and fill another day, and cook yet another day.

There's nothing like a homemade pierog (the singular of pierogi). Some people serve them with melted butter right out of the boiling pot. Others prefer to fry theirs fresh or after boiling.

There's no right or wrong on the fillings, so you'll see everything from blueberry to sauerkraut and mushrooms. Serve sweet pierogi with confectioners' sugar, and savory ones with caramelized onions and sour cream, if desired.

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