Culinary Passport: Poland

Growing up in the Midphoto(112)west, dinner was around the table, food was predictable and there was always enough to feed double the crowd.

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!

Pierogi collage

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.

Don’t ask.

5 Responses to Culinary Passport: Poland
  1. Amelia E. Adler
    January 7, 2013 | 10:15 AM

    They can also be sweet, filled with fruit, for example berries or cherries, or with white cheese only (without potatoes, like “Ruskie”), with melted butter and a little bit of sugar on top. Kids particularly love these :)

    • Toni
      January 7, 2013 | 11:13 AM

      Oohh…thank you for the suggestion! Will make it a point to try fruited pierogi when the season comes :)

      • Amelia E. Adler
        January 7, 2013 | 11:47 AM

        Haha, my pleasure :) Always glad to see a little part of my culture spread out to distant places… ;”)

  2. J. Doe
    January 7, 2013 | 11:21 AM

    I adore pierogies. They always seem like too much work but as you point out, one could easily make a huge amount and then freeze some … it’s not like the ones I’m eating now aren’t frozen! Home-made are the BEST.

    Not sure about the ketchup, though :-)

    • Toni
      January 7, 2013 | 11:24 AM

      They are a bit time consuming but at least it’s not difficult work. Making a huge batch and freezing them is totally worth it. :) Even if they are frozen homemade…the key word is homemade and you know exactly the ingredients in which they are made :) Ketchup? That was only as a 7 year old. LOL She deep fried them until they were crisp like a french fry. I guess that’s how she got us to initially try them. :)

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