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.
John Gorka
This recipe was also featured in: Music in the Kitchen: Favorite Recipes from Austin City Limits Performers