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Home cooking: Pirogi's comfort food from the Old Country

April 14, 2010

You might recognize pirogi as something you've found in the frozen-foods aisle of a grocery store. However, those are no match for the homemade version.

Frequently, my Slovak ancestry presents itself at functions through food. Typically, pirogi are boiled or fried savory pastries of dough with a potato filling. Other fillings can also be used. Pirogi are served throughout the year, including Christmas, weddings and parties.

I grew up in the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, and typically the older women of my church would cook together one afternoon a week. Dozens and dozens of pirogi were made, which means they can be cooked immediately or frozen for a later time.

Stacy Evanisko of Shepherdstown, W.Va.




Pirogi(aka pirohi or pierogi)



Dough


2 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
Water

Filling options


Cheese:

1/2 pound dry cottage cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Dill, to taste, optional

Potato:

1 large potato, cooked and mashed
1 heaping tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

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Prune:

1/2 pound prunes, cooked and mashed

Cabbage:

1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoon shortening or butter
1 head cabbage, chopped fine (about 1 pound)
1/2 teaspoon salt

To make dough, mix flour, eggs and salt. Add enough water to make a medium-soft dough. Knead until blisters appear. Dough should be soft. Divide into 2 portions and set aside.

Prepare filling by combining ingredients.

For cabbage filling, saut onion in shortening or butter. Add cabbage and salt. Fry slowly until browned.

To make pirogi, roll out one portion of dough, thin. Cut into 2-inch-by-2-inch squares. Place on each 1/2-teaspoon filling. Fold in half to make a triangle. Pinch edges to keep filling from escaping. Follow the same method for the remaining portion of dough.

To cook, drop in boiling water until the pirogi float to the top, about 10 minutes.

After the pirogi are boiled and drained, toss with melted butter and serve.

For a crisper variety, melt 3 tablespoon butter in pan and fry the pirogi until it is cooked. Serve with a side of sour cream or sauted onions.

- Courtesy of Stacy Evanisko, a member of St. Catherine's Orthodox Church, Hagerstown.

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