Potato-Cheese Pierogies With Bacon
With pliant skins surrounding a rich mash of potatoes and cheese, Julia Hlinka’s pierogies are the epitome of satisfying northern Slovakian farm food. Instead of the traditional sheep's cheese, she uses American cheese — a reminder of her move to the United States in the 60s — which melts into the potatoes. She tops the pierogies with bacon as a treat. Alternatively, you can also serve them dressed with a little melted butter and chopped chives.
- Serves: 4 persons
- ½pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
- 2pounds red or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks, rinsed
- Table salt
- 4slices American cheese
- 1large egg
- 1cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- 3 ¼cups flour, plus more for board
Step 1Place the bacon in a small saucepan over medium-low heat to render slowly, stirring occasionally. When the bacon is cooked and browned but not yet crisp, turn off the heat; let the bacon sit in its fat.
Step 2Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, and add cold water to cover and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring them to boil over high heat, then lower heat to a simmer for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes break apart easily but are not falling apart. Drain the potatoes, and place them back in the pot. Add the cheese, and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Taste, and season with salt if necessary.
Step 3While the potatoes cook, beat the egg and 1 1/2 tablespoons salt together with a fork in a large mixing bowl. Let rest for a few minutes, then beat in the milk. Add the flour in thirds, stirring well, until you have a sticky, shaggy dough.
Step 4Flour your board with 1/2 cup flour, spread it in an 18-inch circle and turn the dough out into the flour. Lightly knead the dough, rolling it in flour as necessary, until it is mostly smooth (a little lumpiness is O.K.) and well floured, about 5 minutes. Pat it into a 1-inch-thick disc, cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
Step 5Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out 1/8-inch-thick. (If you like a more delicate wrapper, roll it a little thinner.) Punch out wrappers with a 2 1/2-inch-round cookie cutter.
Step 6Hold a wrapper in one hand, and place 1 to 1 1/4 tablespoons potato filling in it, pressing on the filling slightly to spread it nearly to the edge of the wrapper. Bring the edges of the wrapper up, as if folding a taco, and pinch one end closed. Stabilize the pierogi on the outstretched fingers of one hand. Use your other hand to pinch around the pierogi’s top to seal the dumpling into a half moon, pinching the wrapper snugly against the filling to prevent any air pockets from forming. Use the thumb of the stabilizing hand to block the filling from squishing out as you pinch. (If you have air pockets, they may cause the pierogi to explode while boiling.) Place finished pierogies on a lightly floured surface. Any leftover dough may be reserved for another use in the refrigerator, or cut and boiled as rustic noodles.
Step 7Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Gently reheat the bacon. Carefully add the pierogies to the water, and cook until they all float, then cook 1 minute more. Drain, and serve garnished with bacon and slicked with bacon fat.