Several different culinary traditions in Eastern Europe make filled, cooked dumplings, savoury or sweet.
When called Pierogi, the Polish version is being referred to.
Pierogi are somewhat like Italian ravioli and like ravioli, they are traditionally served as a separate course. Occasionally they might be served in a broth.
They are made from unleavened dough that is thinly rolled out, and cut into squares.
A bit of a filling mixture is put on top of each square of dough, then the dough is folded over the filling and the edges sealed. The dumplings are then simmered in water; they are fully cooked when they begin to float to the surface. They are then removed from the water and drained. They may be served at this stage, or may be further cooked by sautéing or baking in butter.
The filling mixture can include farmer’s curd cheese (quark), meat, mushrooms, potato, sauerkraut, etc. Seasonings include salt, pepper and onion.
Pierogi called “Ruskie” (Ruthenian Pierogi) have in them white curd cheese (quark), fried onion and mashed potato.
Traditional toppings for savoury Pierogi can be fried onion, melted butter or finely chopped fried bacon. Heavy or sour cream is also customary in North America.
At Christmas in Poland, it is traditional to serve two kinds of Pierogi, one filled with sauerkraut and dried mushrooms, and another smaller version called “uszka” filled with just dried mushrooms, served in a clear broth. Pierogi were also a staple in the Milk Bars (“bar mleczny”) canteens that were created during Communist rule in Poland; at least one Milk Bar serving them seems to have survived in most substantial Polish cities, being served with lard and onions (“smalec z cebula.”)
Sweet Pierogi might be served with melted butter and sugar.
The flavours of commercial frozen Pierogi are usually cheddar cheese or bacon, but other flavours such as chicken, jalapeño pepper, etc, are starting to appear.
Pierogi are similar to Russian “pelmeni” and Ukranian “varenki.”
Pros advise to make the Pierogi filling the day before.
Once simmered, they can be frozen,
By the 1960s, commercial frozen Pierogi started to become available in supermarkets.
Literature & Lore
“Pierogi or Cheese Patties: Two cups of cheese, three eggs, one tablespoon of flour, one saltspoon salt. Rub the cheese with the yolks of the eggs, add the flour and salt, and mix thoroughly. Beat the whites to a froth, add lightly to the mixture. Drop tablespoons of the mixture into boiling water; when it comes to the top it is done. Take out with a skimmer, arrange on a platter and dust with bread crumbs browned in butter.” — Hints for Housekeepers Column. The Wellsboro Agitator. Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. 2 March 1910. Page 7.
In Glendon, Alberta, Canada, there is a 25 foot (7 ½ metre) tall statue of a Pierogi.
In Palmerston, Pennsylvania, Pierogi are served with vinegar in a paper cone.
Churches will sell often sell Pierogi as a fundraiser.
A single Pierogi is a “pieróg”; Pierogi is actually the plural word.
In praise of … pierogi. Manchester: The Guardian. 7 April 2011.