Reuben Pierogies & Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food
Casey Barber | Good. Food. Stories.
Reuben pierogies are a fun, fantastic twist on traditional pierogies that you can serve up on game day. They're in Casey Barber's latest book, Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food - and can't be missed!
As you might deduce from its title, my new cookbook Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food is chock-full of love and appreciation for the humble pierogi. But one thing's for sure about the book, as clichéd as it may sound: these are not your babcia's pierogies.
Yes, Pierogi Love features classic fillings like potato and cheddar, mushroom, sauerkraut, and farmer's cheese. But the real heart of the book is to take the idea of "if a pierogi could be anything, what would it be?" and see how far I can stretch it.
Featuring 60 recipes for both sweet and savory pierogies in flavors you've never envisioned—game day-ready jalapeño popper pierogies, elegant celery root pierogies with caramelized fennel, sweet potato pie-rogies with pecan praline and toasted marshmallow fluff, and the book's cover model, pickled strawberry jam pierogies with white chocolate sauce.
With this lineup, it's a fun excuse to introduce pierogi newbies to the wonderful world of Eastern European dumplings. You might not immediately be familiar with pierogi, or with vareniki, or pelmeni, or kalduny, or piroshky, or any of the various names by which these little doughy packages of deliciousness are called. But I'm fairly certain you're quite knowledgeable about the fact that dumplings from any culture—whether they're pierogies or ravioli or shu mai or potstickers or empanadas—are delicious.
Pierogi Love exists at that modern culinary intersection that brings good things from around the world together in surprising and tasty ways. It whisks the Polish dumpling away from its usual home in church basements and potluck suppers, updating what many consider to be a culinary relic of an older generation and bringing it firmly into the 21st century.
In that spirit, today I'm sharing what might be my favorite recipe from the book. I try not to play favorites with my pierogi recipes; they're all my children and I love them dearly. But… having said that… my unadulterated adoration of reuben sandwiches is the stuff of legend.
My husband and I joke that there's a reuben-shaped hole in my stomach that must constantly be filled up or I'll live in a perpetually cranky state. And since sauerkraut and smoked meats are also traditional elements of Eastern European cuisine, it seemed completely natural to transition the sandwich into pierogi form.
If you're a novice pierogi maker, you'll find this filling to be one of the easiest to handle and stuff into your pierogies. The dough, a tweak on the basic savory pierogi dough with the addition of a little rye flour and some caraway seeds, is also a pierogi newbie's dream: no yeast, no rising time, just a quick stir and a rest and a roll out into a supple, stretchy sheet. Put it all together, add some homemade Thousand Island dressing for dunking, and you've got yourself a winning meal.
As with every recipe in the book, these pierogies are freezer-friendly—perfect quick weeknight food to stash away and cook up at a moment's notice (plus, they take up much less space than a casserole!). You might not be able to resist eating these reuben pierogies fresh, but then, in Pierogi Love, you have 59 other recipes to try out and eat at your leisure.
Whisk 1 egg, sour cream or yogurt, butter, and salt in a bowl.
Add the flours and caraway seeds to a large bowl.
Gently stir the wet ingredients into the flour. The dough will initially be very dry and shaggy, seeming as if it will never come together, but have no fear: Keep stirring, and it will pull itself into shape.
Once the dough starts to come together, press and smash it against the sides of the bowl with your palms, picking up dough bits and essentially kneading it within the bowl until it forms a ball.
Tip the dough and any remaining shaggy flakes out onto a clean work surface or Roul’Pat. Knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with the bowl and let rest 15 minutes.
To Make the Pierogi Filling:
While the dough rests, mix the sauerkraut, cheese, and pastrami in a bowl.
To Make the Thousand Island Dressing:
Stir the ingredients in a small bowl. (Dressing can be made up to 1 week ahead; cover and refrigerate.)
Assemble the Pierogies:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Have the egg wash at the ready.
Divide the rested dough into 4 equal pieces with a bench scraper or knife. Set aside 3 dough pieces and cover with the mixing bowl. Roll remaining dough as thinly as possible into a rough 8- x 12-inch rectangle.
Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 6 rounds of dough. If the dough isn’t quartered evenly, you may get 5 rounds from one piece and 7 from another. Resist the temptation to re-roll dough scraps for additional rounds. It seems wasteful, but the dough won’t be as tender the second time around.
Spoon 1 teaspoon of filling into the center of each dough round. Using your finger, swipe a very scant amount of egg wash—just a light touch—around the dough edge.
Fold into a half-moon shape: Either fold the dough over the filling on the work surface—I call this “the blanket”—or gently cup the pierogi in your hand in a U shape—I call this “the taco.” Gently but firmly seal the pierogi by pinching and squeezing the edges together with your thumb and pointer finger. Start with one pinch at the top, then move to one “corner” of the pierogi and pinch along the edge back to the top. Repeat on the opposite side to finish sealing the pierogi.
Transfer to the baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough rounds and filling. Freeze on the baking sheet, refrigerate up to 3 hours, or cook immediately.
TO BOIL FRESH OR FROZEN PIEROGIES
Boil a pot of water over medium-high heat (fill approximately 1 quart water for every 6 pierogies).
Add pierogies and cook until floating, 2 to 3 minutes for fresh and 4 to 5 minutes for frozen.
TO PAN-FRY FRESH OR BOILED PIEROGIES
Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil (like canola or vegetable) or melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a skillet over medium heat.
Add as many pierogies as will fit in a single layer without crowding.
Cook until pierogies are brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with additional oil or butter and pierogies.
TO DEEP-FRY FRESH OR FROZEN PIEROGIES
Use an electric deep fryer or a large, high-sided pot filled with at least 2 inches of vegetable or canola oil (fill the pot no more than 1/3 full). Heat oil to 350 degrees.
Add pierogies and cook until golden brown; frying time varies based on equipment, about 3 minutes for fresh and 5 minutes for frozen.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Transfer pierogies to the baking sheet and cool for 1 minute.