For the last few years, we’ve done a Polish dinner on Christmas eve. Nothing too fancy, just pierogi, kielbasa, and sauerkraut. I’m lucky to have a great Polish store nearby, so I’ve always bought the pierogi there, but although they’re fantastic, they’re frozen, not fresh. So this year, I decided to take a stab at making them myself. I still bought frozen ones as a backup, which was a good thing, because mine were… not smaczny.
I got the recipes from an old Polish cookbook - that is, an American book with recipes for Polish food. The fillings (potato and mushroom) were pretty bland, but I feel like I can tweak those myself. The real issue was the dough. The recipe was just flour, eggs, and water, mixed by hand using the mound-of-flour method. It came together fairly easily, but it still seemed a bit lumpy to me. I’ve never really tried to make dough before, but it was my understanding that overkneading can make it tough, so I tried to do as little as I could. Then I let it rest under a warm bowl for 10 minutes, and rolled it out as thinly as possible. It looked fairly smooth after rolling out. I cut and filled the pierogi with no problems, and they looked like they should. The only issue at that point was that I wound up with about half as many as the recipe indicated, which makes me think it wasn’t thin enough. And indeed, after they were boiled, they were very thick, tough, and chewy.
So what’s my problem? Should I use a different recipe? Knead more? Knead less (somehow)? Roll thinner - and if so, any good techniques? And if you have any hot tips on the fillings, particularly, the best way to incorporate garlic into mashed potatoes, I’m all ears.