Sunday, October 17, 2010

Friends and Food

Shortly after I moved in, two of my high school friends, Staecy and Amanda, came up to Davis to visit me in my new home. We decided to have a night of cooking and since I'd been craving pierogies ever since I wrote my post about my European food adventures, we decided to satisfy my tummy and set out to make these little pockets of goodness. While I don't have exact amounts for the ingredients in the filling (I was too busy having a blast with my girls to write down my expact procedure), it's not really necessary to get that exact.

Potato Pierogies with Cabbage, Pancetta and Browned Onions

For the dough: (adapted from Gormet on Epi)
3 cups all-purpose flou
1 cup water
1 egg
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling: (I made extra so I could have leftovers for potato pancakes)
Several  large baking potatos
1-2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups sharp white cheddar (or more)
Salt and pepper
For the cabbage:
Several tablespoons of butter
1 head of cabbage sliced thinly
1 onion sliced thinly
1/2 cup chopped pancetta
Salt and pepper

First off, get some water boiling for the potatoes. Clean the potatoes and cut them in half if they are large. When the water starts boiling, place the potatoes in the pot and boil until the potatoes are tender, about 8-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the dough. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic--about 8 minutes.
Let the dough stand while making the filling. Once the potatoes are ready, drain them and remove the skin. Mash them with a fork till there are no chunks and mix in the sour cream, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Add as much as you want, I definitely added quite a good amount of sour cream and cheese!
Roll out the dough thinly on a lightly floured surface. This will take a while.
If you've got helpers with you, like I did, get them started on chopping the pancetta, onions and cabbage. Start melting the butter and browning the onions on a medium-low setting. Add the pancetta once the onions have started softening.
Once the dough is rolled out, cut out circles (I used a glass cup to cut through the dough), rerolling the extra dough until it is all cut.
Get some water boiling again--this time, to cook the pierogies.
To construct the pierogies, dollop a bit if the filling in the center of the dough. Moisten the edge of the dough circle with a bit of water (I just kept a cup of water by my side, dipped my finger in it and used it to moisten the dough) and close the circle of dough into a half circle--making sure the dough is pinched together around the sides so the filling won't come out.
To cook the pierogies, add them to the boiling water for about five minutes. Meanwhile, melt a bit of butter in a large skillet (you might need several skillets going if you want to cook them all at once). Once they are al dente, drain them and put them in the skillet to brown. Once they are browned on one side, flip them over to brown on the other side. Note: This step is optional. In Europe, the pierogies I had were only boiled and never browned, but I really like them with a crunchy outer shell.
Meanwhile, turn down the onions and pancetta to a lower heat setting and add the cabbage. Allow it to wilt down and soak up the sauces from the onion and pancetta.
Once the cabbage is nicely cooked and the pierogies are nicely browned, plate and enjoy!

It takes a lot of time (and I had two awesome friends helping me!) but these are really worth it once you get to sit down to enjoy them. The filling is so smooth and tasty, and I love the crunchiness of the outer shell. The cabbage is a perfect side, especially with the hearty, browned onions and salty pancetta. If it's raining where you are, like it is here, this would be the perfect meal to make and enjoy while cozying up against the rain with a few friends.

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