Sauerkraut Pierogi

This is the 3rd of a multi-part post on pierogi. To read it from the beginning, click here. This post contains sauerkraut filling recipes. For other fillings, dough recipes, and cooking instructions, click here.

Pierogi, from Make It Like a Man!

Each of the recipes below makes enough for 50 Pierogi (based on a Pieróg made from a 3 3/18ths-diameter round).

Pierogi are traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, or fruit … sometimes ground meat. Each of these fillings is often mixed with cheese. Although ground meat isn’t as common as the others, “uncommon” isn’t something you should avoid. So long as it’s edible and you’re confident you can successfully encase it in dough, your imagination is the limit when it comes to fillings.

Sauerkraut Filling, with Mushrooms

This filling is intensely flavored.

1 large can (28-oz) sauerkraut[1]
1 large onion, chopped
4 oz mushrooms (optional), chopped[2]
6 Tbs butter
Salt and pepper

"Pierogi," from Make It Like a Man! Drain the kraut in a colander.[3] While it’s draining, sauté the onion and mushrooms in butter, over moderately high heat, for 10 minutes, or until onions begin to caramelize. Mix in the sauerkraut and season to taste with salt (if necessary) and pepper. It will have a strong flavor, but remember that you’ll be encasing small portions of it in dough. You want a strong flavor. Cook for 8½ minutes, or until fairly dry. Allow to cool completely, then use to fill dough.[4]

Sauerkraut Filling, with Mushroom and Caraway

The sharp tang of the sauerkraut is diminished, and the distinctively Polish taste of caraway takes the field.

1 large can (28-oz) sauerkraut
1 onion, chopped and sautéed in butter
1 or 2 dried mushrooms
Salt and pepper and a few caraway seeds

Rinse sauerkraut thoroughly with hot water. Add to sautéed onion. Put mushrooms in enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Strain liquid through a cloth, chop mushrooms and add to sauerkraut. Season to taste. Cook, covered, on a low heat for about 1 hour. Add 1 Tbs quick cooking oatmeal and cook additional 15 minutes. Chill completely before using and press out all liquid for easier handling while sealing.

Sauerkraut Filling, without Mushrooms

This is a milder-tasting filling.

1 large can (28-oz) sauerkraut
1 med onion, chopped
1 Tbs butter

Squeeze out liquid from sauerkraut, parboil and drain well until almost dry. Stir fry kraut, onion and butter about 5 minutes. Cover and cook 10 minutes more; cool.

Notes:

Pierogi, from Make It Like a Man!

[1] Sauerkraut Can: I modeled this recipe after my grandmother’s, while calling in a few consultations with a couple of her cohorts. Back in the day, my grandmother would’ve used a № 2 can of kraut. № 2 was the standard larger size. You don’t see it any more. Our large-size cans are about 28% larger than a № 2. (Hmm, are we also 28% fatter?) Anyway, a № 2 can had a 3 3/18ths diameter. That’s important, because it is the perfect size for cutting rounds of Pierogi dough. Fret not: an 8-oz can of pineapple slices has the same diameter. A 28- or 29-oz can from something like pumpkin pureé or tomato sauce will also do in a pinch, but the resultant pierogi will be quite large; Pierogi grow when you boil them.
[2] Mushrooms: Some traditional recipes call simply for “mushrooms,” but those writers almost certainly meant canned or dried mushrooms. I’ve used fresh button mushrooms in this recipe, because I prefer them over canned. However, dried might be tasty; if you want to used dried mushrooms, halve the amount.
[3] Rinsing Kraut: Many Polish cooks rinse sauerkraut in cold water several times before using it, presumably to diminish the vinegar. I never rinse it. Every once in a while, I come across a sauerkraut that is so tangy, like “Frank’s,” that I’d be remiss if I didn’t rinse it.
[4] Kraut Texture: Sauerkraut strands are long and crunchy. The brief cooking process in this recipe won’t diminish the crunch significantly. If you want a softer filling, begin these directions by placing the kraut in a covered pot with a bit of water. Bring to a boil, then cook over low heat for about 30 minutes. Add water, if necessary, to keep the kraut from boiling dry. If your kraut strands are especially long, you might find it difficult to keep them away from the edges as you try to seal the dough around them. You can go at the kraut with scissors while it’s draining. This will make the kraut much easier to work with.

See Also:

[1] Introduction: traditional Polish foods, pierogi serving size, spreading out the work
[2] How to Make Pierogi: Rolling, filling, and cooking
[3] Fillings, Part 1 : Sauerkraut You Are Here
[4] Fillings, Part 2 : Potato
[5] Fillings, Part 3 : Fruit
[6] Dough

Suggestions for Further Reading:

How to Make Pierogi
Potato and Cheese Pierogi

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