Pierogi are a dish consisting of boiled or baked dumplings of
unleavened dough stuffed with varying ingredients. They are usually
semicircular, but are square in some cuisines.
Left: A plateful of
Ruskie pierogi topped with fried onions.
The origins of pierogi are difficult to trace. While
dumplings as such are found throughout Eurasia, the specific name pierogi shows the name's common Slavic origins, predating the
modern nation states and their standardized languages.
In most of these
languages the word means pie.
vareniki are half circular dumplings of unleavened
dough, stuffed (singularly or in various combinations) with mashed potatoes,
sauerkraut, meat, mushrooms, or other ingredients depending on
the cook's personal preferences. Dessert versions of the dumpling can be
stuffed with a fresh fruit filling, such as cherry, strawberry, raspberry,
blueberry, peach, plum, or apple; stoned prunes are sometimes used.
To prepare pierogi, the dough is rolled flat and then
cut into circles using a cup or drinking glass. The filling is placed in
the middle and the dough folded over to form a half circle. The pierogi
or vareniki are boiled until they float, drained, and sometimes fried or
baked in butter before serving.
Left: Cutting the dough by
using a wine glass.
They can be served with
melted butter, sour cream, or garnished with small pieces of fried bacon,
onions, and also mushrooms. Dessert varieties may be topped with apple
sauce. Some Polish families in North America serve them with
Pierogi play an important role in
Polish cuisine. Polish pierogi are often filled with fresh white cheese (curd),
potatoes, and fried onions; in this form, they are called pierogi ruskie (Rusyn
or Ruthenian pierogi), which is the most popular variety in North America. In
Poland more popular are pierogi filled with ground meat, mushrooms and cabbage,
or for dessert an assortment of fruits (various
berries, with either strawberries or blueberries being most common). Pierogi are
usually served with melted butter and sugar, or melted butter and bacon bits.
In Russian cuisine, the closest analogue to pierogi are
Pelmeni, which are meat filled, are also similar.
The Jewish Ashkenazi version is called pirogen, which are
usually boiled and fried before serving. A related Jewish dish are the
kreplach, which are ring shaped dumplings (which look like
and served as a side dish or in clear soup.
In East Asia, similar foods are served, such as Chinese
mantu, and Korean
In Turkey, Transcaucasus, and Central Asia round pockets of dough with a meat
filling are called
khinkali, or chuchvara
(Uzbek dumpling). There is also
a definite similarity to Italian