If you are interested in Eastern-European cuisine, you have certainly heard about Pierogi - kind of dumplings - similar to Asian gyoza. I want to share my recipe for one of my favourite kind of pierogis - we call them Russian Pierogis. They are filled with a mixture of mashed potatoes with curd cheese (Ricotta style), and then served with fried streaky bacon and onion. Maybe strange sounding filling, but believe me that with the serving suggestion they taste great!!
What I would like to also explain is the method that I use to make dumplings, and say a few words about the dough, which I usually use to make my pierogis. I use hot water dough for all types of dumplings. It is very flexible and thanks to that I can use a large amount of filling without fear that the dough will crack when folding or cooking. The dough can also be rolled out very thinly - a very important point from my perspective, because I do not like thick wrap on the dumplings. The fact that the hot water is poured over the flour means that dumplings need to be cooked for a very short time - we save time. However, there is one problematic element with such a dough. The fact that it is very flexible also makes it quite difficult to roll out - especially if we want to do it thinly. The dough likes to get back to its smaller shape after rolling out. Therefore, the second element of this post - my method for rolling out the dough - I use a pasta machine. Firstly, rolling out the dough with it takes literally a minute per batch of dough, and besides, you can achieve such a thin dough that I can't imagine is even possible when rolling it out by hand. When using a pasta machine, we don't need so much flour, i.e. ultimately the dumplings are much softer, and the scraps that remain after cutting the circles have only a bit more flour in them and are much better suited for the next use. Generally, we save time and energy (especially the one coming from our muscles;)).
(for 50 dumplings)
280ml of hot water
1tbsp of olive oil
1tbsp of salt
600g of mashed potatoes
250g of ricotta cheese
300g streaky bacon
spring onion (optional)
Boil the potatoes - preferably without peeling - then peel them and mash thoroughly and then set aside to cool. You can also make instant mashed potatoes (just use a bit less water than in the recipe).
To boiling water add salt and olive oil , mix and pour into a bowl with flour. If you knead the dough by hand, wait until it cools down so that you can work with it. If you are using a standing mixer, you can turn it on immediately to start kneading. Knead only to combine the ingredients and to get a uniform consistency. The dough is too hard at the moment to work with. Cover it and set aside for about 20 minutes so that the gluten relaxes.
After resting, we knead the dough by hand or robot for about 10 minutes - until you get a smooth, elastic dough . The dough must rest a second time - we wrap it in a cling film and put it aside for 1 hour. During this time, you can prepare the filling and serving elements for dumplings.
If you use cottage cheese or white cheese in cubes, you should crumble it well, grind it in a meat grinder or blend it to a smooth mass - otherwise the filling will have a noticeable clumps of cheese. I use ricotta cheese, so I can add it directly from the box to the mashed potatoes because it is creamy - I save time. Mix cheese and potatoes thoroughly until you get a smooth paste, season with salt and pepper.
Cut the bacon slices into small pieces, toss them into a frying pan and start frying on low heat so that fat begins to melt. You can then slightly raise the temperature so that the bacon begins to fry. In the last stage of frying, add the onion cut into thin feathers and fry until it is lightly browned and soft.
After an hour, the dumpling dough is ready. We cut off a piece of dough, cover the rest with foil so that it does not dry out when we work with the cut off part. Sprinkle the board with flour so that the dough does not stick, we roll out as thinly as we like. Or if we use a pasta machine, we flatten the dough a little, dust with flour on both sides and pass through the machine for the first time at the thickest setting (in my machine No7). I usually finish rolling on setting number 2 of seven - thinner dough is not practical for me - it may break when stuffing.
We cut out circles - I use cookie cutter, or a dumpling maker. The remaining dough can be covered and reused later in the work.
We put as much filling on each circle as we think it will fit - remember that we must still have free edges to close the dumplings. I use a small dumpling maker (you can easily get it in the shops or on Amazon) - it makes work easier and the dumplings come out very shapely and even. I always use a bit of water to brush on one side of the dumpling's edge to make it stick together more easily. I keep working until I use all the filling or the dough.
In a large pot, boil water, add salt and lightly dust with flour - this is the old trick. Add the dumplings one at a time so that they float - I usually fit about 18 dumplings in a pot - but it depends on the size of the pot and the dumplings;)
After you bring the water with dumplings to the boil, cook for 1-2 minutes - not too long so as not to overcook - the flour has been already steamed with hot water when making the dough - you do not need to cook it for long.
Remove the dumplings using a skimmer spoon. Garnish with bacon and onion, you can also sprinkle with chopped spring onions and serve !!