John Gorka’s Family Pierogi Recipe
Pierogi or pierogies are filled dumplings which come from Eastern Europe.
This recipe comes from my father’s side of the family, which is the Polish side. His parents were both born in Poland. The pierogi we are making here feature two different fillings: potato-cheese and sauerkraut & bacon. Prepare the fillings before making the dough. It is the same for both types.
Potato Cheese (makes 15)
- 1 lb – ricotta cheese (My Mom’s family was from Italy)
- 1/4 head fresh garlic
- 1/2 bunch green onions (scallions)
- 2 medium potatoes (boiled and mashed)
- 3 Tablespoons half and half
- basil (use liberally)
- black pepper
- oregano (little bit)
- salt (go easy)
– Boil potatoes and drain
– Mash potatoes and add half and half while mashing
– Mix cheese into potatoes and add spices to taste
Sauerkraut and bacon (makes 15)
- 1 can Bavarian style Kraut which is slightly sweet
- 4 whole strips of bacon crushed or crumbled into small bits
- 1/2 bunch green onions chopped fine
- 1/4 head garlic chopped fine
– Fry or microwave bacon until crispy and drain fat, let cool, crumble into 1/4 in square bits (roughly)
– Drain liquid from sauerkraut and add to a 12” skillet on medium heat
– Mix in garlic, onions and bacon
– Simmer until sauerkraut is translucent and slightly brown
– Let cool
The dough is the tricky part for me. I will sometimes use more flour than listed below so I won’t have to roll the dough so thin that the pierogies break when I boil them. I always end up with lots of leftover potato cheese filling.
Dough (makes 30):
- 3 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix flour and salt in a big bowl. Make a space in the middle of bowl and put butter and eggs there. Slowly stir up mixture adding warm water to make a stiff dough. Don’t make too loose. You may not need all the water. Knead dough until very smooth. Let stand in bowl for 10 minutes covered by a dish towel. Divide into 2 halves and rollout with a rolling pin. Leave unrolled half in covered bowl. Shape dough by hand and roller to make a large rectangle that is longer vertically than it is wide. Roll out on floured, flat surface until dough is 1/16 inch thick. Roll out from center of dough to the edges. Divide dough in half, scoring but not cutting a horizontal line across the middle with a knife. Use approximately 1 tablespoon of filling for each pierogi. Space fillings evenly in rows and fold top half of dough over the bottom half. Usually I have a more in the top rows than in the bottom row because dough is often more in the shape of a tall oval than a rectangle with precise 90 degree angles. Cut into rows using a pizza cutter or knife. Cut rows into individual pierogies and press edges with fingers then fork to seal in the fillings. Put them on trays covered with floured paper towels. Bring 2 large pots of water to a boil adding olive oil and salt. Add pierogies and boil for 8-10 minutes, slightly longer if your dough is really thick. Serve with melted butter and champagne. Some may prefer one type or another but the two flavors seem to compliment each other well. Take pictures because they are gone really quickly and you may not believe they were real.
This recipe was also featured in: Music in the Kitchen: Favorite Recipes from Austin City Limits Performers
I will have to make these. Thanks for bringing the recipe back!
John – I am polish decent too…..I make pirogi almost the same as you do…..I have another filling – plums…..make the pirogi with plums as the filling……..after taking them out of the boiling water….let rest a bit —-then fry them in butter with sugar dashed on top of both sides (flip when turning brown)….great as a dessert rather than a starch at dinner. Ted – President of Common Fence Music….see you in two weeks…..
Wow – my great-aunt (who was Romanian, by the way) made these and called them “prune noodles”. They were very much like ravioli filled with prune jelly; boiled, pan-fried, then dusted with sugar. I remember my grandfather (her brother) devouring them. I have wonderful memories of watching her make them.
Thanks, the Cheese and potato ones are fantastic. I usually let my pasta dough rest a little longer because I find that it rolls out easier. I don’t mind that these are a little time consuming, as I sometimes make tamales and they take a long time to prepare. Going to do the kraut and bacon ones next. Thanks for this. See you in Denver this fall.
Hello, John. I’m from Poland and I love your songs. I’m your huge fan. Maybe you’re going to see your forefathers land? Glad to see you in Poland.
This looks like a lot of work – how about a video of you making these? I am more of a visual learner 🙂
I was sitting here at work this morning wondering what “John Gorka has been up to?”. Googled and came up w/your sight with a family recipe for pierogies. I grew up in Chicago w/both parents having family from Poland so I also loved pierogies – and a good recipe. I do have a few from my Mom but it was kind of sweet to see this on a musician’s website. Thanks for making me smile. 🙂 P.S. I am going to go get the newest album/CD (dating myself) and maybe the cookbook!
There’s nothing quite like pierogies over the holidays with my 4 Polish brothers eating them faster than I could make them! Love it! Joanne Buchanan, South Shore Folk Music Club
Looks like you make a raviogi on that cheese and potato recipe! Basil, garlic, oregano, ricotta????
That’s a hybrid for sure.
(Similar to you, my family is Italian and Slovak, and we grew up eating both pierogi’s (at Easter) and ravioli (at Christmas).)
Glad to see you celebrating your roots.