Pierogi with Chicken & Spinach

    • I have been trying out new fillings for pierogi – all with chicken – here is the third and last for now – will be trying out different ones  later.
    • The filling is  made with cooked chicken as usual but I have found that chicken thighs make a tastier dish than chicken breast.
    • I cooked the chicken as for  rosȯł – chicken soup.
    • Spinach is often added to twaróg or yoghurt cheese but I wanted a more meaty mixture.
    • Lots of spinach cooks down to quite a small amount so the amount can be whatever you have.
    • You can mince the chicken and spinach but I used a mini-chopper, which gave a great smooth filling.

Ingredients – Filling 

  • 150 – 200g cooked chicken thighs
  • 150 -200g fresh spinach
  • 1-2 tablespoons melted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • *
  • Melted butter to serve

Method – Filling

  • Blanch the spinach in  rosȯł,  chicken stock or boiling water for several minutes.
  • Let it cool and drain it.
  • Whisk the spinach in a mini chopper.
  • Minch the chicken or use a mini chopper.
  • Mix the spinach with the chicken until well mixed.
  • Mix well in the cooled, melted butter.
  • Season to taste.
  • *
  • Serve with melted butter.
  • *
  • Instructions for putting the pierogi together are below the photographs.

How to make pierogi

Ingredients – Dough

  • 250g pasta flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
  • 150ml water
  • 1   tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk.

Method – Dough

  • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
  • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.
  • Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
  • Cover and leave to rest for about ½ an hour.
  • *
  • Cut the dough into half.
  • Prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean cotton or linen tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
  • On a floured board roll out the dough a half at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
  • Cut out circles using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
  • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
  • Around a half tablespoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.
  • You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens – even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.
  • Place the sealed pierogi on prepared tray until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.
  • *
  • To cook the pierogi
  • Use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.
  • Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 5 to 6 at a time.
  • As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 minutes and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve with melted butter.
  • Continue boiling batches in the same water.
  • If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get a large oven proof dish.
  • Melt lots of butter in the dish.
  • Keep the dish warm in a low oven.
  • As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the dish and coat them with the melted butter.
  • Keep on adding more as they cook.

Pierogi – Mexican Inspired

    • I have been trying out new fillings for pierogi – all with chicken – here is the second.
    • This was on the menu in a restaurant in Kraków that I went to a few years ago  I did not choose this but noted it down.
    • The filling is  made with cooked chicken as usual and  I have found that chicken thighs make a tastier dish than chicken breast.
    • I cooked the chicken as for  rosȯł – chicken soup.
    • You can mince the chicken and beans but I used a mini-chopper, which gave a great smooth filling.
    • This makes a lot of filling so I  have given instructions for 500g of flour for the dough.
    • The amount of chilli will vary depending on how fresh your chilli powder is and your tastes.
    • Use paprika instead of chilli if you do not like food hot.

Ingredients – Filling

  • Tin Kidney beans – drained
  • 250 – 350g cooked chicken
  • 2- 3 teaspoons chilli powder  (to taste or paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Method – Filling

  • Mash the beans well or use a mini chopper.
  • Mince the chicken or use a mini chopper.
  • Combine the chicken and beans.
  • Add the melted butter and the egg yolks and mix well.
  • Add the chilli and season to taste.

To Serve

  • Serve with melted butter.
  • Serve with onions – char cooked in butter.
  • Serve with onions cooked with chopped peppers – can also add some chopped fresh chilli.
  • Serve with melted butter with chilli flakes add – NOT tested.

How to make pierogi

Ingredients – Dough

  • 500g pasta flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
  • 300ml water
  • 1 -2  tablespoons oil – sunflower or light olive
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks

Method – Dough

    • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
    • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
    • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.
    • Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
    • Cover and leave to rest for about ½ an hour.
    • *
    • Cut the dough into quarters.
    • Prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean cotton or linen tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
    • On a floured board roll out the dough a quarter at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
    • Cut out circles using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
    • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
    • Around a half tablespoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.
    • You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens – even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.
    • Place the sealed pierogi on prepared tray until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.
    • *
    • To cook the pierogi

    • Use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.
    • Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 5 to 6 at a time.
    • As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 minutes and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve with melted butter.
    • Continue boiling batches in the same water.
    • If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get a large oven proof dish.
    • Melt lots of butter in the dish.
    • Keep the dish warm in a low oven.
    • As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the dish and coat them with the melted butter.
    • Keep on adding more as they cook.

Pierogi with Chicken & Carrots

  • This is my 500th post – so I thought I would do a variation on a classic!
  • I have been trying out new fillings for pierogi – all with chicken – here is the first.
  • The fillings are made with cooked chicken as usual but I have found the chicken thighs make a tastier dish than chicken breast.
  • I cooked the chicken as for  rosȯł – chicken soup.
  • 5 – 6 carrots were in with the chicken.
  • You can mince the chicken and carrots but I used a mini-chopper, which gave a great smooth filling.

Ingredients

  • 200g of cooked chicken thighs – without bones or skin
  • 5-6 carrots boiled with the thighs
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Method

  • Mince or use a mini-chopper to get a smooth mixture of chicken and carrots.
  • Mix in the melted butter and egg yolk.
  • Season to taste.
  • Use the filling to make pierogi in the usual way.
  • *
  • Serve with melted butter.
  • *
  • I have added how to make pierogi – below the photographs.
  • How to make pierogi

  • Ingredients – Dough

    • 250g pasta flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
    • 150ml water
    • 1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg yolk

    Method – Dough

    • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
    • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
    • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.
    • Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
    • Cover and leave to rest for about ½ an hour.
    • *
    • Cut the dough into half.
    • Prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean cotton or linen tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
    • On a floured board roll out the dough a half at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
    • Cut out circles using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
    • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
    • Around a half tablespoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.
    • You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens – even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.
    • Place the sealed pierogi on prepared tray until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.
    • *
    • To cook the pierogi

    • Use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.
    • Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 5 to 6 at a time.
    • As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 minutes and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve with melted butter.
    • Continue boiling batches in the same water.
    • If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get a large oven proof dish.
    • Melt lots of butter in the dish.
    • Keep the dish warm in a low oven.
    • As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the dish and coat them with the melted butter.
    • Keep on adding more as they cook.

Fish Pierogi

  • I decided to try these after making fish pulpety, which were so good.
  • I adapted the filling slightly.
  • I used frozen basa fish but cod or haddock would also be good.
  • I have not made pierogi with a fish filling before – the verdict – delicious!

Ingredients – Filling

  • 150-200g cooked white fish
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 1 slice white bread or a small bread roll
  • 1 tablespoon of dried breadcrumbs
  • Chopped flat-leaved parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • *
  • Melted butter – to serve

Method – Filling

  • Fry the onions gently in the butter till golden.
  • Leave the onions to cool.
  • Make crumbs from the white bread.
  • Chop the fish into small pieces.
  • Mix the ingredients together.
  • Season to taste.
  • Use the filling to make pierogi *in the usual way.
  • *
  • *Quick recap of pierogi instructions below

To Serve

  • These are good served just with the melted butter.
  • I also liked the gently refried ones, in the butter, the next day.

*Pierogi Instructions

Ingredients – Dough

  • 250g pasta flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk

Method – Dough

  • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
  • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
  • Cover and leave to rest for about ½ an hour.
  • *
  • Cut the dough into half.
  • Prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean cotton or linen tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
  • On a floured board roll out the dough a half at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
  • Cut out circles using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
  • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
  • Around a half tablespoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.
  • You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens – even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.
  • Place the sealed pierogi on prepared tray until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.
  • *
  • To cook the pierogi, use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.
  • Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 5 to 6 at a time.
  • As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 minutes and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve with melted butter.
  • Continue boiling batches in the same water.
  • If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get a large oven proof dish.
  • Melt lots of butter in the dish.
  • Keep the dish warm in a low oven.
  • As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the dish and coat them with the melted butter.
  • Keep on adding more as they cook.

Pierogi with Leeks & Peas

  • Well over a year ago when on a trip to Gdańsk, in one restaurant I saw on the menu pierogi (Polish filled pasta) which had leeks, peas and soured cream as a filling.
  • Although I did not try these, I thought they sounded good and tried out this  mixture as a filling for buckwheat pancakes.
  • At last I have had the time to try this out as a filling for pierogi.
  • I adjusted the filling I had made for the pancakes by using cream cheese (or twaróg or yoghurt cheese) rather than soured cream.

Filling

  • 2 leeks – chopped
  • 50 – 75g frozen peas
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 -3 tablespoons of cream cheese, twaróg or yoghurt cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

  • Using a deep large frying pan with a lid (a glass one is best), melt the butter and gently cook the leeks to soften them but not brown.
  • Add the frozen peas and cover with the lid and cook for a few minutes.
  • Stir the mixture and continue to heat without the lid to drive off excess liquid.
  • Purée most of the mixture – keeping some of the peas whole.
  • Stir in the cream cheese (twaróg or yoghurt cheese).
  • Season to taste.

Ingredients – Dough

  • 250g pasta flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk

Method – Dough

  • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
  • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.

 

  • Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
  • Cover and leave to rest for about ½ an hour.
  • *
  • Cut the dough into half.
  • Prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean cotton or linen tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
  • On a floured board roll out the dough a half at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
  • Cut out circles using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
  • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
  • Around a half tablespoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.
  • You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens – even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.
  • Place the sealed pierogi on prepared tray until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.
  • *
  • To cook the pierogi, use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.
  • Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 6 to 7 at a time.
  • As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 minutes and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve with melted butter.
  • Continue boiling batches in the same water.
  • If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get a large oven proof dish.
  • Melt lots of butter in the dish.
  • Keep the dish warm in a low oven.
  • As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the dish and coat them with the melted butter.
  • Keep on adding more as they cook.

Plate- Alfred Meakin – Midwinter – Spanish Garden 1960s

To Serve

  • These are good served just with the melted butter.
  • I also liked the gently refried ones, in the butter, the next day.

 

Pierogi with Red Fruits

  • Pierogi  are  little semicircular parcels of pasta which are made with a multitude of fillings.
  • I wrote a very large post about them over 4 years ago.
  • Pierogi with sweet fillings are made in just the same way as savoury ones.
  • Circles of dough have a filling placed on them.  The dough is folded over and pinched to make a semi circle and these are boiled in slightly salted water.
  • Once boiled, sweet pierogi are dredged with icing, granulated or caster sugar and are often served with soured cream.  They are best eaten straight away.
  • I must admit that when I was younger I did not really like sweet pierogi but now I think they are utterly delicious especially when served with soured cream.

Red Fruits

In the summer and early autumn in Poland, when all the fruits of the forests and the garden  are ripe, that is when these pierogi are at their best.  However bottled fruit is available all year round and I often make my sweet pierogi with these.

You can also use defrosted frozen fruit.

My favourite are:

  • Morello(sour) Cherries  – fresh ones are not usually available in England – I use bottled ones.
  • Whinberries (bilberries) –  these grew in Lancashire near my home and also could be bought in baskets imported from Poland.  (I think the larger American Blueberry is nowhere near as tasty.)
  • When we went to pick these I know this always made my mother think of her childhood in Poland.

Some of the other options are:

  • Blackberries
  • Blackcurrants
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • *
  • Depending on the size of the fruit, you need about 3 or 4 per circle.
  • Do not add sugar to fresh fruit as this will make too much liquid and the pierogi will not seal.
  • If using bottled fruit you need to strain as much juice away as possible.
  • If using defrosted frozen fruit dab away any excess water.
  • Drench the cooked pierogi in icing sugar and serve with sour cream. The sugar contrasts with tartness of the fruit.

Ingredients – Dough

  • 250g pasta flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk

Method – Dough

  • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
  • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.

  • Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
  • Cover and leave to rest for about ½ an hour.
  • *
  • Cut the dough into half.
  • Prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean cotton or linen tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
  • On a floured board roll out the dough a half at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
  • Cut out circles using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
  • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
  • Depending on the fruit and size place 3 to 4 on each circle.
  • Folded them over and pinch the edges together to make a good seal.
  • You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens – even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.
  • Place the sealed pierogi on the prepared tray until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.
  • *
  • To cook the pierogi, use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.
  • Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 6 to 7 at a time.
  • As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 minutes and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve.
  • Continue boiling batches in the same water.
  • If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get some oven proof plates.
  • Keep the plates warm in a low oven.
  • As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the plates, trying not to make them touch.
  • Keep on adding more as they cook.

To Serve

Sprinkle with icing, granulated or caster sugar and some soured cream.

Pierogi with Sour Cherries

Served here on La prune by Jet for Ter Steege

Pierogi with Whinberries

Served on Royal Doulton – Carnation  1982 – 1998

Pierogi with Chicken & Raisins & Walnuts

This is my 250th post!

So I have decided on this Polish classic with a new twist – one I will certainly be making again.

Last Easter time I was in Gdańsk and I got to eat many old favourites and several new dishes.

I tried pierogi in several restaurants, choosing some unusual fillings and have written about some of these already such as pierogi with duck

I did find that some of the meaty ones were too big – I use a 7cm diameter cutter, which for me gives a better filling to pasta ratio.

On one menu I noticed a filling of chicken, raisins and walnuts.  I did not get the chance to eat these but decided that this was a must to try out.

Ingredients

  • 150 -200g of cooked chicken or thighs – roasted or poached  – amounts are not critical.
  • 50g of raisins
  • 30-50g of walnuts
  • Pepper to taste

Method

  • Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover them with boiling water.
  • Leave for an hour till they swell up.
  • Place them into a small saucepan heat them slowly and simmer stirring with a wooden spoon.
  • Once you have a pulp of the raisins leave them to go cold.
  • Chop the walnuts into small pieces.
  • Chop or mince the chicken.
  • Mix the ingredients together.
  • Season with pepper.
  • *
  • Use this filling for the pierogi – instructions for the dough are given below.
  • *
  • Serve with melted butter.

I have written much previously about pierogi  – but have included the instructions for the dough again below to save you looking it up.

Ingredients – Dough

  • 250g pasta flour or strong flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk

Method

  • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
  • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.

 

  • Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
  • Cut the dough into quarters.
  • On a floured board roll out a quarter at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
  • Now prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
  • Have a large surface such as a tray covered with a cotton or linen cloth which has been lightly floured ready  and place the sealed pierogi on this until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.
  • I cut them out using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
  • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
  • Around a half tablespoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.
  • You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens to me even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.
  • To cook the pierogi, use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.
  • Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 6 to 8 at a time.
  • As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 to 3 minutes and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put them into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain.
  • Continue boiling batches in the same water.
  • If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get a large shallow dish and put melted butter into the dish.
  • Keep the dish warm in a low oven.
  • As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the dish, mix them with the butter to prevent them sticking.
  • Keep on adding more as they cook and keep shaking the dish to coat and mix them.

  • Fried pierogi

  • All the butter coated pierogi that are not eaten can be fried up later – equally delicious!
  • Any that are not eaten should be spread out so that they cool with the melted butter around them.
  • Later, you can then fry them up gently so they are golden in parts.

 

 

 

 

 

Dumplings … just one word!

In Polish cookery there are many items, made with flour or potatoes, which when you look up English words to describe them, you find just one word … dumplings!

Some are similar – some quite different – some I have already written about – some I will be doing in the future.

Below is a list – with links to those already written about.

 

See also:

August 2021

This has been updated to include all new recipes.

 

Pierogi with Duck

I have recently returned from a super, short holiday in Gdańsk during which I tried out many old favourites and several new dishes.

I tried pierogi in several restaurants, choicing some unusual fillings and have been inspired to make them with some new fillings.

I did find that some of the meaty ones were too big – I use a 7cm diameter cutter, which for me gives a better filling to pasta ratio. and have been inspired to make some with some new fillings.

I had several delicious meals in a restaurant in the Old Town called Gvarathe name is based on the Polish word gwara which means dialect (Polish does not have the letter v !). This restaurant serves Polish cuisine – often with a modern take and it has given me much inspiration for some new recipes.

One of the dishes there was pierogi with  duck in the filling.

On the way back to the airport the taxi driver told me that his wife would be cooking duck with red cabbage for Easter Sunday – this set me thinking!

Because I had several ducks in the freezer, I roasted these and took off all the meat – however in the future I would just buy duck breasts or legs and roast or poach them.

3 Duck Fillings

Cooked duck meat – roasted or poached  – is used in these recipes – amouts are not critical.

Fillings must be left to go cold before using.

Duck & Apple

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • 4 eating apples – Braeburn or Coxes are good

Method

  • Core the apples and place them in a oven proof dish
  • Cook them in a medium oven until the flesh is soft
  • Scope out all the apple flesh
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat
  • Combine the duck and apple flesh together.

 

Serve with melted butter – here on Royal Worcester – Evesham from 1961 onwards.

 

 

Duck, Red Cabbage & Cranberries

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • 300g red cabbage
  • 50g of dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Method

Rather than boiling, steaming or slow cooking the red cabbage, I used a sort of stir-fry & braising method which worked really well.

  • Put the cranberries in a dish a cover them with some boiling water and leave them for about half an hour.
  • Shred the cabbage.
  • In a deep frying/ saucepan heat some water and add the butter.
  • Stir in the cabbage and simmer gently for a few minutes.
  • Cover the pan – a glass lid is good so you can see what is happening – you need to check and stir occasionally.
  • Simmer for around 10 minutes.
  • Add the cranberries & water, stir and on put the lid back on.
  • Simmer for around 10  to 15 minutes.
  • Keep a check on the water so it does not dry out.
  • If the cabbage has not cooked enough – adjust the water and cook for a bit longer.
  • Leave to cool completely
  • Use a mini-chopper or stick blender to shred the cabbage mixture.
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat.
  • Combine the duck and cabbage & cranberry mixture together.

Serve with melted butter – here on La prune by  Jet for Ter Steege in The Netherlands.

Duck & Sauerkraut

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • Around half a large jar of sauerkraut
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Pepper to taste

Method

  • Put the sauerkraut with the liquid from the tin or jar into a pan and cover with boiling water.
  • Simmer the sauerkraut gently for about 30 minutes.
  • Then uncover and boil off as much of the liquid as possible – without burning the sauerkraut.
  • Allow the boiled sauerkraut to cool.
  • Strain it using a sieve and pressing it down with a spoon to get the mixture as dry as possible (If you want you can put the strained mixture into a clean dry cotton or linen teacloth, twist the ends together to squeeze it to get it really dry).
  • Chop the sauerkraut finely with a sharp knife.
  • Chop the onion finely  and fry it gently in the butter until it is soft and golden – leave it to cool.
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat.
  • Combine the cabbage mixture, the fried onion and the chopped sauerkraut.
  • Add some pepper to taste.

Fried pierogi

All the butter coated pierogi that are not eaten can be fried up later – equally delicious!

 

I have written much previously about pierogi  – but have included the instructions for the dough again below.

Ingredients – Dough

  • 250g pasta flour or strong flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk

Method

  • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
  • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.

 

  • Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
  • Cut the dough into quarters.
  • On a floured board roll out a quarter at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
  • Now prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
  • Have a large surface such as a tray covered with a cotton or linen cloth which has been lightly floured ready  and place the sealed pierogi on this until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.
  • I cut them out using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
  • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
  • Around a half tablespoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.
  • You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens to me even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.
  • To cook the pierogi, use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.
  • Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 6 to 8 at a time (I only do 6 at a time if using frozen ones).
  • As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 to 3 minutes, a bit more if they were frozen, and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve.
  • Continue boiling batches in the same water.
  • If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get a large shallow dish and put the melted butter into the dish
  • Keep the dish warm in a low oven.
  • As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the dish, mix them with the butter to prevent them sticking.
  • Keep on adding more as they cook and keep shaking the dish to coat and mix them.

 

 

 

 

Uszka – Little Ears – Re-visited

I wrote a long post on pierogi and uszka   over two years ago and this has lots of details on Polish pasta.

This post is an update on how to make uszka in advance and open freeze them.

Uszka –  means ‘little ears’ and traditionally  mushroom uszka are made for Wigila – the Christmas Eve meal  to serve either on their own with butter or floating in barszcz (clear beetroot soup).

I usually make around 250 to 300 uszka on the morning of Christmas Eve.

Last Chritmas I was going to be taking the uszka to my sister’s to cook there and also needed some on another day to cook at home.

I knew that I could make them in advance and open freeze them; so decided that this year I would make them in small batches and freeze them up over the few weeks before Christmas Eve.

In Poland these will have been made with just dried mushrooms, here in England my mother made them with fresh mushrooms with the addition of dried mushrooms when she could get them.  I like them like this the best.

Ingredients – Mushroom Filling

20g dried mushrooms

250g mushrooms – older open ones are better than button mushrooms.

1 onion

1 egg yolk

1 to 2 tablespoons of home-made dried breadcrumbs

Butter to fry the mushrooms

Salt & ground black pepper to taste

Method

Pour a small amount of boiling water into the dried mushrooms and leave these overnight.

You can remove the stalks from the older fresh mushrooms as these tend to be ‘woody’ and then cut the caps into thin slices.

Chop the onion into small pieces.

Fry the mushrooms and onions together in the butter.

Chop the reconstituted dried mushroom (You can save the liquor for other recipes) and add these to the mixture and heat them together for a few minutes more.

It does depend on the mushrooms and the way they are fried as to how much liquid is produced, if you get a lot, then let them simmer gently to evaporate as much as possible or strain some of this excess off (again you can use this liquor in soups or sauces).

Allow the mixture to cool.

The mixture then needs to be minced which used to take me a long time and much effort.  I now use a hand blender which works really well indeed. 

To the minced mixture add the egg yolk and enough breadcrumbs to make a stiff filling.

Add salt and lots of ground black pepper.

You can divide up the mixture into 3 or 4 portions and freeze these in plastic bags or tubs to use at a later date.

Uszka Dough

The dough is made from flour, egg yolks and water and I have  seen many variations of the recipe.  The following is my mother’s and I think it is the best I have ever used and tasted.

She never used whole eggs, just the yolks and this gives a dough which is soft and not tough and can be easily rolled out.

My mother originally used plain flour and added a tablespoon or two of fine semolina but now that strong flour or even pasta flour is readily available this is what I use the most.

Flour does vary and it is possible to add more flour to the dough as you are mixing it but you cannot add more liquid if it is too dry!

As you mix the ingredients in the first few minutes you should be able to tell if it will be too dry and you can add some more water initially but once it is all mixed together you cannot – if it goes wrong – just start again!

The quantities that I have given work well and but you should allow for extra flour if needed.

Depending on how thinly you roll out the dough, this amount should make around 70 uszka.

Ingredients – Dough

250g pasta flour or strong flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina

150ml water

1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk

Method

In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.

Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.

Cut the dough into quarters.

On a floured board roll out a quarter at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.

Now prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.

Have a large surface such as a tray covered with a cotton or linen cloth which has been lightly floured ready  and place the sealed uszka on this until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.

I usually make the uszka from squares of dough, about 4cm square, which are folded.

This time,  I made the shape in a slightly different way – so that I got a much more uniform shape and size.

I cut them out using a 6cm diameter cutter. (I also tried a 5cm diameter cutter which was good as the uszka were smaller but much more time consuming!)

The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.

Around a small teaspoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.

The two ends are the brought together and pinched to make a round “ear” shape.

You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens to me even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.

As you are making them place them on the floured cloth.

Open Freezing

You need to have a fairly empty freezer to do this

If you have a extra chill button on you freezer, switch that on.

You will need around 3 baking trays – sprinkle flour on these.

Place  the uszka apart on floured baking trays so they are not touching and place the trays in the freezer for several hours – or even overnight – making sure the trays do not squash each other.

Once they are frozen, pack the uszka into boxes.

Cook them  straight from frozen by dropping them individually straight into boiling salted water – 8 to 10 at a time.

As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 to 3 minutes and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve.  Continue boiling batches in the same water.

Uszka are served with melted butter or they can be served floating in a clear soup such as rosól – clear chicken soup or in barszcz – beetroot soup.

The convention is to serve three or five uszka in each dish.

Any that are not eaten should be spread out so that they cool with the melted butter around them.

P1040527

later, you can then fry them up gently so they are golden in parts.

A new tradition which was stared by my mother is on Christmas Day morning to have uszka fried with bacon and eggs, we always make sure we have some saved!

The Verdict

So much easier making the uszka in advance, so I will continue to make them like this, slowly over the weeks before Wigilia.