Cold Weather Craving: Pierogi

Grey drizzly days that get dark at 4 o'clock? Fingerless gloves in my pocket? Ever-present mug of tea at my elbow? Yup, I'm thinking it's time for a massive pierogi chow-down.

Vika was my gateway into the wonderful world of pierogis. She was the Russian exchange student our family hosted for a year when I was in high school. When she found out that none of us had ever eaten (or even heard of) pierogis before, she clicked her tongue disapprovingly and got right to work in the kitchen.

Result: pierogi bliss.

Pierogis are the Eastern European answer to the dumpling. These are pockets of dough stuffed with all manner of delicious foodstuffs. Mashed potatoes are a personal favorite, though I won't turn down those stuffed with sauerkraut, ground beef, mushrooms and onions, or even just simply cheese.

The dough itself tends to be more bread-like than, say, the pasta used to make ravioli or the wonton wrappers used to make potstickers. Once the pierogi are boiled and then crisped in a hot skillet, the result is a fairly thick yet tender skin of dough sandwiching the soft middles.

I am ashamed to say that I haven't made pierogi myself since Vika nudged me over to the counter and showed me how to pinch the dough closed. Frozen pierogi and their occasional appearance on restaurant menus have satisfied my cravings so far, but it's high time I tried making pierogi for myself.

Pierogi with Cabbage Filling from Martha Stewart
Polish Potato Pierogi from Honest Cooking
Meat-Filled Pierogi from Fine Cooking
Roland's Prize-Winning Bacon Loaded Pierogi from Columbus Food Adventures
Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Thyme Pierogi from Food52

Do you make pierogi? What are your favorite fillings?

Related: New Favorite Pasta: Hand-Stamped Croxetti Discs

(Image: Martha Stewart)