Friday, December 9, 2022

A Ukrainian pierogi recipe roots this writer to his family tree

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The scenario in Ukraine has stirred up a brand new degree of hysteria. Or, slightly, reintroduced the anxiousness that I grew up with as a member of Gen X. In highschool within the Eighties, I used to be required to take a category known as “Americanism vs. Communism.” The formative popular culture of my youth included plot traces that concerned surviving in a post-apocalyptic world or rogue teenagers saving the nation from evil invaders.

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It had been a pleasant couple of many years since we had to significantly fear about that dystopian narrative, however right here we’re once more. And there’s actually nothing I can do about it. So I’m heading to the kitchen.

I don’t align strongly with any explicit ethnicity, however I bear in mind once I was rising up, anytime we had a family get-together on my mom’s aspect, we’d get to see my great-grandfather, Gigi, who I believed was fascinating with his thick accent and tales of “the old country.” It could be years earlier than I realized that the outdated nation he spoke of was Ukraine, and even then I wasn’t certain what that meant, as a result of on the time it was a part of the Soviet Union. I guessed that Ukraine was a state there, type of like Pennsylvania, the place we lived on the time. And I not too long ago realized that he got here to America someday after the flip of the century as a stowaway on a ship, escaping the upheaval that was rising forward of the Russian Revolution.

The factor I bear in mind most vividly from these events was the meals. There had been at all times stuffed cabbages, which my grandmother made and I favored a lot as a result of they made me really feel like I favored a vegetable. There had been enormous vats of kielbasa and sauerkraut. Beets with horseradish was one in all my absolute favorites, a condiment I might placed on the whole lot in sight.

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But the dish that received me placed on the buffet watch listing was pierogi. My grandmother, Nastazia, made these, too. They had been mashed potatoes and cheese stuffed in a pasta dumpling wrapper, and so they spoke straight to the center and intestine of the carbotarian I might change into.

On the buffet, they’d be served merely boiled and tossed with onions sauteed in tons of butter. There was at all times bitter cream on the aspect, which simply made them that a lot better. I used to be at all times close to the entrance of the road, petrified they’d run out earlier than I received my flip. I ate so many as soon as that I received sick, and restrictions had been subsequently positioned on my entry to them. I felt like that was unfair, however every so often I might handle to sneak a pair past my quota.

Other instances after we had them, they’d be boiled first, then pan fried, giving the already excellent package deal additional textural curiosity. I don’t desire a method over the opposite. They’re each my favourite.

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I want I had paid extra consideration to the tales, or requested extra about them when there was nonetheless somebody to ask. I want I knew sufficient to have the ability to match present occasions with issues Gigi used to speak about, although it could break my coronary heart. Or possibly as a result of it could break my coronary heart, that very explicit ache of getting a deep sufficient connection to a spot to really feel innately the horror of what’s taking place there.

But I do have the recipes. My grandmother wrote a spiral-bound cookbook of family recipes, and the final chapter is devoted to Ukrainian dishes. The final time I made her pierogi, I did it as a result of I used to be working by way of the truth that she didn’t have lengthy to dwell, and I felt like making her recipe could be the connection I wanted within the second.

Now I’m making them for a connection to a spot I’ve by no means been and ancestors I do know nearly nothing about. But additionally, possibly, to some dwelling, distant cousin that has a spot on a far-flung department of my family tree. So distant that no on-line DNA pattern would ever link us. Maybe they’re going by way of one thing proper now that I can’t think about, being requested to defend their very dwelling. Or to evacuate it. Maybe, if this wasn’t taking place, I by no means would’ve puzzled in the event that they had been on the market in any respect.

Maybe I might have nearly nothing in widespread with them. But possibly, simply possibly, our recipes for pierogi come from a typical root.

  • 1 1/2 kilos (680 grams) russet potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and minimize in 1/2-inch cube
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion (about 5 ounces/142 grams), finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon effective salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly floor black pepper
  • Chopped contemporary chives, dill or scallions, for garnish (non-compulsory)
  • 1/2 cup (240 milliliters) heat water
  • 2 giant eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons bitter cream, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon effective salt
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra as wanted

Make the filling: Bring a big pot of water to a boil over medium-high warmth. Add the potatoes and prepare dinner till delicate and the cubes will be simply smashed with a fork, 12 to quarter-hour.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium warmth, soften the butter. Add the onion and prepare dinner, stirring till simply softened and starting to flip translucent, about 4 minutes.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain and return them to the pot. Use a potato masher or a sturdy wood spoon to mash the potatoes till pretty clean. Add the sauteed onions and any butter nonetheless within the pan, plus the cheese, salt and pepper. Continue to mash the combination till the potatoes are fairly clean and the whole lot is properly integrated. Set apart to cool whilst you make the dough.

Make the dough: In a medium bowl, combine collectively the water, eggs, bitter cream and salt. Put the flour in a big bowl and create a properly within the middle. Add the egg combination to the properly and, utilizing a fork, start mixing the liquid into the flour a little bit at a time till all of the flour has been integrated.

Lightly flour your work floor and switch the dough out onto it. Generously flour your arms and knead till the dough is delicate and pliable, about 5 minutes. Let the dough relaxation for about quarter-hour.

Assemble the pierogi: Line a big, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and dirt the paper with flour.

Generously flour your work floor and rolling pin. Working with about half the dough at a time, roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a 3-inch spherical cookie cutter, minimize as many circles from the dough as you’ll be able to. (You can collect the scraps and reroll it a number of instances to make extra.)

On the middle of every dough circle, add about 1 tablespoon of the potato filling. Pick up the dough, fold it over the filling and start fastidiously pinching the perimeters of the dough closed across the filling. It may seem like there’s an excessive amount of filling to enclose, however the dough can be very delicate and pliable, and may simply stretch to shut. Place the pierogi on the ready baking sheet, then fill and shut the remainder of the circles. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. (The pierogi will be frozen at this level; see STORAGE.)

To end, deliver a big pot of well-salted water to a boil. Drop the pierogi in a number of at a time, in order not to crowd the pot, gently stirring them so that they don’t stick collectively. Cook till they start to bob to the floor, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, switch to a platter and repeat as crucial.

Serve the pierogi with bitter cream on the aspect, or end them with one of many VARIATIONS, beneath.

In a big saute pan over medium warmth, soften 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and, working in batches in order to not crowd the pan, saute the boiled pierogi, a number of at a time, till the bottoms are browned and crisp, about 2 minutes per aspect. Transfer to a platter and repeat as crucial. Garnish with chives, dill or scallions, if utilizing, and serve with bitter cream. This variation is pictured above.

In a big skillet over medium-high warmth, soften 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 giant, thinly sliced yellow onion. Cook, stirring, till the onions are softened and start to flip translucent, about 6 minutes. Toss the boiled pierogi with the onions and serve with bitter cream.

Calories: 94; Total Fat: 3 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 19 mg; Sodium: 149 mg; Carbohydrates: 14 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 1 g; Protein: 3 g

This evaluation is an estimate based mostly on accessible substances and this preparation. It mustn’t substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s recommendation.

Adapted from a recipe by employees writer Jim Webster’s grandmother Nastazia Makitka Brick.

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