How to Make Pierogi
Looking for good conversation to impress your friends and family during Whiting’s Pierogi Fest? Start off by asking them, “What is the plural of pierogi?” The answer: Pierogi. Don’t let them spell it “pierogies.” No, no. The word is already plural.
You can follow that up with an even tougher question. Ask them: “What is the singular of pierogi?” No, the answer is not pierogi. It’s not like fish or sheep, where both singular and plural forms are the same. The answer is “pierog.”
And by this time, if your family and friends haven’t yet said, “Shut up and eat,” ask them, “How do you spell pierogi?” The answer to that one is: “Well, it depends.”
In Polish it’s “pierogi,” just like the festival in Whiting which pierogi are named after. But it’s spelled “pirohy” in Slovak, “pyrohy” in Ukrainian, and you can also find it spelled pirohi, pirosti, pirozhki, and…we’ll stop there. You see, it’s a Slavic food, and the Poles, Slovaks, Romanians, Ukranians and so on, each had their own version, and each had their own language with different spellings.
If you’re brave enough to carry on this conversation any longer with family and friends, ask them what goes inside the dough of pierogi. But be ready to accept any answer they give, because what goes inside is pretty much up to the chef...within limits, of course. (Who, outside of people sitting in the beer garden, would suggest that a White Castle might taste good inside a pierogi?) Cheese, potatoes, cabbage, and prunes are common choices. But berries, spinach and even jalapenos have been known to be tasty ingredients.
Finally, if you really, really want to impress the ones you are with, tell them that anyone who gets all the answers right to your quiz will get a free, authentic pierogi recipe, just like the dish was made by the Slavic immigrants who came to Whiting. How do you know it’s authentic? Because the recipe below was printed in what may be the most popular cookbook of all time in Whiting: “Favorite Recipes of St. John’s Rosary Society.”
“The recipes compiled in this book,” reads the introduction to the 1972 edition, the twentieth printing of the cookbook, “are a collection of favorite family recipes, many of them handed down by our mothers and grandmothers who brought them from their old homeland.” That’s authentic.
And if you want to sound like an authentic Pole, be sure to say “Smacznego!” before you and your Pierogi Fest colleagues eat. That, of course, is the word to wish someone a good meal. For a bonus question, ask them what the equivalent phrase is in Slovak. It’s “Dobru chut!” But by this time, maybe you should just shut up and eat.
PIROHI - Mrs. George Fedork
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
Mix flour, egg and salt. Add enough water to make medium soft dough. Knead until blisters appear. Dough should be soft. Divide into two portions. Roll out one portion thin. Cut in 2-inch squares. Place on each, ½ teaspoon desired filling. Fold in half to make triangle. Pinch edges to keep filling from escaping. Follow same method for remaining portion of dough. Drop in boiling water until pirohi come to the top. About 10 minutes. After pirohi are boiled and drained, brown butter in skillet and pour over pirohi, toss or mix well.
Prune Filling: ½ pound prunes, cooked, mashed.
Cheese Filling: ½ pound dry cottage cheese; 1 egg, beaten; Dill (optional); 1/8 teaspoon salt. Combine ingredients. Or ½ pound dry cottage cheese; 1 egg, beaten; 2 tablespoons sugar; Vanilla. Combine ingredients.
Cabbage Filling: 1 one-pound head cabbage, chopped fine; ½ teaspoon salt; 2 tablespoons shortening; 1 medium onion, chopped fine. Saute onion in shortening. Add cabbage. Fry slowly until browned.
Potato Filling: 1 large potato, cooked, mashed; 1 heaping tablespoon butter; ½ teaspoon salt. Combine ingredients.