I’d like to introduce you to my longtime friend and mother of 3, Susan English. Today she’s sharing with us one of her family’s traditions: making pierogi at Christmastime. Susan has credit for all of the photos here.
Our traditional Polish Christmas Wigilia planning has begun. With only 10 days until Christmas, four generations came together to make our family’s favorite item on the Christmas Eve menu: pierogi. What started as a clean kitchen ended up as a floured mess. Great Grandma was busy cooking onions and sauerkraut while Grandma made the potato dough. My four- year old had the important job of rolling the dough, playing with the dough, then rolling it flat again. Once the dough was rolled, he used the top of a large cup to cut out a circle from the dough. The sauerkraut mixture was spooned into the center of the circle, closed up and sealed at the ends with a fork. My son pointed out the end result looks like a moon. The completed pierogi are frozen on a cookie sheet and will be ready to boil then bake with butter on December 24th.
As I watched my family work together in the kitchen, I realized what a priceless experience this was for us all. From the potato spattered recipe sheet to the smells of sautéed onions, an overwhelming sense of pride in my heritage came over me. While my son was covered in flour and listening to the memories we were all sharing, he was immersed in an educational experience like no other. Through the making of pierogi, he was using fine motor skills, creativity, shape recognition, learning to follow step-by-step instructions and had his own important job in the assembly-line production. My mom and grandma loved introducing this tradition to the youngest in our family. We will all come together on Christmas Eve for the Wigilia and enjoy each other, our blessings, pierogi and traditions that have literally been passed down from one generation to the next.
Note: One of the best parts of this recipe is that it is so “vague.” The way my great-grandma cooks is by watching consistency, throwing in a “pinch” more of this or that, and continually tasting as she goes along. As a truly amazing Polish cook, she also makes enough to feed an army!
2 large Jars of sauerkraut
3 large red potatoes
10 yellow onions
Flour, Salt, Pepper
Milk, butter, garlic
Double rinse the sauerkraut. Sauté the chopped onions in butter until transparent. Throw in the rinsed sauerkraut and add salt and pepper. Keep cooking and stirring on low about 30 min. Let cool then cover.
Make mashed potatoes out of the 3 red potatoes. Add butter, garlic and salt to taste. No milk. Place to the side.
Mix 12 heaping scoops of flour (sifted), 3-4 eggs, salt and pepper, and milk. When it is blended, mix in the potato mixture. Knead dough on floured countertop until it has the consistency of bread dough.
Roll out until 1/8 inch thick. Cut out large circles with a top of a cup. Place sauerkraut mixture in center. Fold over to make a half moon. Fork print the sides closed. Makes about 62 pierogi.
They can be frozen separately. Boil 20 minutes and place in a pan with way too many sticks of butter as your gravy.
Enjoy! Wesołych Świąt– Merry Christmas! See all of our Christmas Around the World articles! So many amazing traditions from different cultures celebrating Christmas.