Crispy Pierogi with Pork and Dried Fruit

pierogi pork

The best pierogi I’ve ever eaten in my life — one that ruined all other pierogi for me — was at Michael Symon’s now-closed restaurant Lola in Cleveland, Ohio. I still remember what it looked like: a half moon of crispy dough stuffed with beef cheeks. It was maybe one of the most decadent things I’ve ever tasted; somewhere between an empanada and a calzone; the amount of labor that went into it was evident with every bite. I vowed to make it some day from Symon’s cookbook (which has my favorite chili recipe) but never did.

Enter Nicole Rucker, this week’s guest on You’ve Got to Taste This. Nicole’s in a cookbook club (sorry men, it’s women only) and one of the most successful recipes they’ve ever tested happens to be the pierogi recipe that she sent me to make this week. They come from Zuza Zak’s cookbook Pierogi, which makes sense, and they’re stuffed with this magical mixture of caramelized pork blended with soaked dried fruit, boiled in salted water, and then sauteed in copious amounts of butter. Needless to say, they were an absolute trumph.

Here’s me and Nicole talking about what makes them so great:

And here’s our full conversation about it, should you be in the mood for a podcast:

Now, about these pierogi. (I realize now that pierogi plural is the same as pierogi singular, so ignore the ‘s’ in some of the above links.) The dough is a dreamy combination of flour, egg yolks, butter, salt, and warm water. You bring it together in a bowl, knead it for five to six minutes, then let it rest before you roll it out and stamp out large circles for the pierogi (not pierogis).

Meanwhile, you make this wild filling of ground pork that you cook in butter until golden brown and dried fruit which you soak in water to soften. Deglazed with a little white wine and then blended, you adjust with sugar, salt, pepper, and lemon juice until it tastes undeniable. And then, after it cools, you stuff it into your little pierogi.

I was a little unclear as to how to bring it all together, but having made ravioli and other circular doughs filled with stuff, I figured I could wet the border with my finger, pinch it in half, and press down, crimping a little just to see if I could. Tossed on a sheet with with semolina flour, these pierogi looked good enough to eat raw.

Alas, I decided to cook them. The boiling in salted water part will be familiar to anyone who’s ever cooked homemade pasta… you take them out when they float. (Very Stephen King’s It.) But the real fun begins when you melt a ton of butter in a large skillet and add the pierogi to that and cook, tossing all around, until they start to crisp up. Then you add some sesame seeds to toast along with the pierogi.

Brought to the table and served with some cooked red cabbage (courtesy of my friend Tyler), plus sour cream for dipping, these were an event unto themselves. There’s no reason to compare them to the Michael Symon pierogi… they’re both glorious expressions of the form. And the form, in case you missed it, is buttery dough stuffed with intensely flavored meat and then fried in more butter. Who could turn down something like that? You’ve got to taste this, indeed!

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Crispy Pierogi with Pork and Dried Fruit

Decadent golden-brown and crispy pierogi from Zuza Zak's Pierogi.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Polish
Keyword dried fruit, dumplings, pierogi, pork
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 hungry people

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 1/3 cup dried prunes, pitted
  • 1/3 cup dried apples
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots Feel free to substitute the dried fruit in the recipe; Nicole Rucker used dates and dried cherries.
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

For the dough:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Large pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water from a pre-boiled kettle
  • Semolina flour (optional)

To serve:

  • 4 tablespoons butter The recipe calls for only 1 tablespoon here, but I think that's ridiculous. Life is short.
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Sour cream

Instructions

  • For the filling, soak the dried fruit in a bowl of hot water for an hour. Lift the fruit out, reserving the water, and dice it finely.
  • Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the dough with your hands. Bring the mixture together into a ball and turn on to a floured work surface and knead for five to six minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp dish towel for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • For the filling, heat the butter in a saucepan with a lid and cook the pork, stirring, until golden brown (don't skip this step! the color adds so much flavor). Add the fruit, the wine, and a splash of the fruit water. Turn the heat down, cover, and simmer for about ten minutes. Remove the lid, add another splash of fruit water, and taste here to adjust with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Cook for another five minutes, then remove from the heat, cool a little, and blend in a food processor to a "rough mince" consistency. Tatse again to adjust with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  • Roll your dough out on a floured surface as thin as you can. Depending on the size of the pierogi you're going for, use a two to three inch cutter or the top of a water glass to cut out circles. Add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of filling to the center of each pierogi (depends on how big they are); wet the border with your finger and then pinch closed, pressing all the air out and crimping the perimeter closed with your fingers or a fork. Add to a sheet covered in semolina and repeat with the remaining pierogi. At this point, you can cook right away or freeze for later use.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Drop in the pierogi — you can do this in batches if you have a lot — and cook until they float, plus another minute.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet. As the pierogi finish cooking in the water, lift them with a spider tool into the skillet with the butter until all the pierogi have been boiled and then crank up the heat in the butter pan. Sauté, tossing all around, until they start to crisp up. Sprinkle in the sesame seeds and continue cooking until the seeds start to toast. Serve right away with lots of sour cream.

2 comments

  1. Hey Adam, love your blog so much. Thanks for starting it back up again! Cheers, Walter

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