Meatloaf and mashed potatoes, sweet corn on the cob grown in someone’s backyard, Cincinnati chili over spaghetti and picnic potlucks always containing some sort of fruited jello salad and a casserole made with canned cream soup…that’s how we rolled in northwest Indiana.
Granted, this area of the state is FULL of different cultural groups: Mexican, Serbian, Polish, you name it. But, in my little town? That little town way out in the middle of four cornfields? Nope. We were a full-blooded, corn-fed, typical American food eating people. There was no ethnic food in my house. Italian food consisted of Chef Boyardee Ravioli. Mexican was represented by Lowry’s seasoned taco meat. And Chinese? What Chinese? Who are they?
That being said, you can imagine my surprise when my mother introduced the pierogi…Mrs. T’s, frozen, straight from the box. Holy shit, what is THAT? Pasta filled with cheesy mashed potatoes and fried to a crisp? We can dunk them in ketchup? Yes, that is my first experience with pierogi. Crispy, fried hand-pies filled with mashed potatoes. How quickly we Americanized this Polish treat. Of course, as the years went on, our tastes developed and we began to enjoy them boiled and sauteed in butter and onions, they way they should be. If I feel like having a particularly fatty day, I’ll add sour cream and bacon as well. Sure. Why not?
Since we don’t typically buy any pre-made, processed foods of any kind, Mrs. T’s is no longer in the running. Since pierogi has become one our favorite foods, I began my hunt for a delicious, authentic recipe to make them at home. That’s when I ran across the Ruskie Pierogi recipe over on Kaisa’s blog, Polish Mama on the Prairie. Don’t let the pierogi intimidate you. She has a very easy to follow recipe that you will just love! Aside from having to substitute whole milk ricotta for the soft, farmer’s cheese, I followed the recipe exactly (not surprising that I couldn’t find that cheese anywhere.) They are simply delicious. Don’t forget to make extra for freezing!
If you haven’t already, whether sauteed or fried to a crisp, introduce your children to the pierogi. Kids can easily be involved in making them, as well. Allow them to get creative with the fillings! Kraut? Sausage? Chopped Spinach? Ham or Bacon? Possibilities are endless. Don’t forget to “stamp” your culinary passport as having made a visit to Poland!
Now, excuse me while I take my crispy pierogi hand pie to the front porch where I will be covered in ketchup while running up and down the front steps and playing in the highway.