My wife, Brittany, and I grew up in northeast Ohio, which enjoys a number of culinary influences from European immigrants who came to the United States in the 1920s and 30s. In Youngstown, you can find frozen pierogi in most grocery stores, but the best pierogi often come from church fish fry dinners during the Lenten season.
Potato and cheese are the most popular, but we’ve also had them stuffed with sweet cabbage (our favorite), sauerkraut or prune. The savory versions are served boiled or sautéed with butter, onion, and kielbasa.
Although we have traditionally had potato and cheese pierogi made with farmer’s cheese or cheddar, we opted for pepper jack at Boards and Bites Cafe for its extra spice and creamy consistency. For us, these crispy potato-filled dough pockets are the ultimate comfort food. They remind us of home, childhood family gatherings and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games, where people in pierogi costumes race around the stadium. We typically make them in the early morning for our shop. Though the recipe is quite simple, they are a bit labor intensive. It’s always a huge pleasure to watch other people enjoy the results of my work.
Boards and Bites Pierogi
4 medium russet potatoes peeled and cubed
7.5 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp of salt
Dash of pepper, to taste
Directions: Peel and chop the potatoes, boil until fork-tender and drain thoroughly. Process the potato using a potato ricer. Shred pepper jack cheese; mix into warm riced potatoes. Add salt and pepper or any other desired spices to taste. Mix until you have a uniform consistency; mixture should hold its shape if rolled into a ball.
2 cups flour
½ cup water
¼ tsp salt
Directions: Add flour to a large mixing bowl; add salt and mix. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Beat egg and water together; pour into well. Gradually combine flour, water and egg until dough begins to form in bowl. Remove onto a floured surface, work dough until smooth. Allow dough to rest for ten minutes under a bowl or towel before rolling.
Assembly: Use a 0.75 oz scoop to prepare scoops of potato filling. Separate dough into two parts; roll one part into ¼ inch sheet. Cut rounds from this sheet using 3-inch round cutter. Place scoops of filling on cut rounds; close and form dough around filling in half moon shape. Add sealed pierogi to boiling water; pierogi are fully cooked when they float. They can be enjoyed boiled or sautéed with butter in a frying pan.
Matthew Gayetsky is the owner of Boards and Bites Cafe in Tyler. He loves sharing games with customers at his shop, along with coffees and delicious bites, including sandwiches, homemade salsa and hummus and, of course, pierogi.
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