An Introduction to Pierogi

This is the first of a multi-part post on Pierogi. It contains general information. For recipes and instructions, click here.

"Pierogi," from Make It Like a Man!

[1] Traditional Polish Foods and Unscrupulous Hucksters

Pierogi, fresh kielbasa, and Gołąbki: the three quintessential Polish foods. Kruschiki is right up there, of course, with smoked kielbasa, and Polish rye. And potato pancakes. And sauerkraut – especially with noodles with caraway seeds – and beer, whiskey, whiskey and Seven-Up, whiskey and ginger ale, blessed food for Easter, Easter bread, and borscht. I’ll mention Czarnina, but let’s not discuss it. I should briefly bring up Pączki … this tradition has been bastardized by the unscrupulous hucksters who supply grocery stores and gas stations with items that, while legally allowed to go by the name “pastry,” are absolute garbage.[1]. Do kurwy nędzy! If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stick with the holy trinity unless specifically advised by a Pole or Polish American: fresh kielbasa, gołąbki, and pierogi … and the greatest of these is pierogi.

[2] Pierogi: Overview

"Pierogi with Meat," from Inspiring Travellers, via Make It Like a Man!Serving Size

If i eat pierogi everyday, will I become big and strong? Or just big? Let’s talk serving size. “Pierogi” is plural.[2] Eating only one of them is so unheard of, that you could probably live and die, eating pierogi every day, and never encounter the singular form, “pieróg.” Anyone saying that one pieróg constitutes a serving is flat-out lying to you. And if they’re lying about this, what else are they lying to you about, huh? They’re probably the same people who tell you that a candy bar contains more than one serving. That notion laughed the dearly beloved king-size Snickers right out of existence, but only to bring about a two-serving-size Snickers in a “resealable” wrapper. Does that fancy wrapper make it more convincing as a two-serving item? Um … no. Anyway, I have a lifetime of real-world experience telling me to peg a Pierogi serving size at about five, MIN-I-MUM. Eight to ten is more like it. Individuals in my family can consume well upwards of 2 dozen in a single feeding (which I don’t recommend, but would be foolish to ignore).

"Pierogi z Grzybami," from Zapiecek, via Make It Like a Man!Spreading Out the Work

Pierogi, like all great Polish food, are heartwarming and comforting and leave you feeling deeply satisfied way deep down in your gut. But it requires overwhelming amounts of backbreaking work to get Pierogi to happen. In that sense, I guess it’s a lot like dating: grueling in general, but the payoff can be nice. In fact, in the Polish communities with which I’m familiar, it’s considered a two-man job, if not a group effort of four or five. Anyway, if you’re going to attempt to do make Pierogi all by yourself, please, take my advice and break the work up so you can spread it out over a couple days. Make one filling one day. Make another filling the next day. The fillings keep well keep well in the fridge and, in fact, are easier to work with once they’ve been refrigerated. Once you make the dough, you should assemble and boil the Pierogi that day, or as soon as possible. Raw Pierogi dough will discolor if not cooked. Although this grey discoloration (the same thing that happens to biscuit dough) doesn’t mean the dough has gone bad, it will produce Pierogi that are simply off-color, and color psychologically affects taste. If this happens, know that once they’re boiled, they’ll lighten up to something much very close to their usual color, and they’ll taste fine. They’ll still be good, just not perfect. Boiled Pierogi, on the other hand, keep well and freeze beautifully.


[1] A pączek is not just some jelly doughnut. I swear to you, a bunch of shysters are selling you the same old jelly doughnuts you eat at any time of year, with a special “pączki” sticker on the packaging. True pączki count lard, butter, grain alcohol, and lots of eggs among their ingredients (they’re quite rich), and are made, like a Bismark, with two halves of dough that have been stuck together and fried.
[2] Plural: Since “pierogi” is already plural, don’t trust anyone who uses the term “pierogies.”

See Also:

Part 1: Introduction You are Here
Part 3: Fillings, Part 1 : Sauerkraut
Part 4: Fillings, Part 2 : Potato
Part 5: Fillings, Part 3 : Fruit
Part 6: Dough

Deconstruct a Pie
How to Make Pierogi

7 thoughts on “An Introduction to Pierogi

  1. very very nice series of articles. i’m just starting, but will finish all. in russia these are called “varenniki”, which is something like “boiled ones”, and the word “pierogi”, if stress is on last “i” – the work means pies and bakes.

    • Thanks! Hope you enjoy the rest of them. I didn’t know a out the emphasis on the “i”. Interesting.

  2. Hi Jeff. I just started making my own again after years of settling for the frozen ones(I don’t kid myself, those are most definitely NOT pierogi). I’m re learning how to do everything, but for the most part they are turning out pretty tasty, now that I have a dough recipe I like. We just oinked out on a batch for supper with the following fillings: potato, sauerkraut/onion/dill, and cottage cheese/dill. The only thing I forgot to do was toss them a bit with flour so they didn’t stick together while I make them….I had some conjoined ones, but still delish.

    I swear on my Polish/German/Ukrainian heritage that I will never buy or eat another store bought pierogi :). Thanks for the great articles!!

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