|Place of origin||Ukraine|
|Main ingredients||Dough; mashed potatoes, quark or cottage cheese, ground meat, liver, offal, mushrooms, fruits, cabbage, sauerkraut, or hard-boiled eggs|
Varenyky (Ukrainian: варе́ники, singular "варе́ник") are stuffed dumplings of unleavened dough which are widespread in East Slavic (Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian) and Baltic (Latvian, Lithuanian) cuisines, and commonly found today in all Post-Soviet states. They are traditionally associated with the Ukrainian cuisine and considered a national dish of Ukraine.
Varenyky are nearly identical with some types of Polish pierogi. In some regions of Western Ukraine, such as modern Ruthenia, both terms, varenyky and pyrohy, are used to denote the same dish. The name pyrohy is also common for the Canadian Ukrainian. This can be attributed to the history of Ukrainian and Rusyn immigration to Canada, which came predominantly from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, where the local dialects had many common words with Polish, German, Romanian and other Central European languages. In other regions of Ukraine and in Russia, the names pirogi and pirozhki refer to baked pies and buns, but not to boiled dumplings. The name of a popular type of Polish pierogi, pierogi ruskie ("Ruthenian pierogi"), is related to Rus', the historical region and naming of Eastern Slavs.
Preparation and serving
Varenyky are crescent- or more rarely square-shaped. They are stuffed with a variety of fillings such as mashed potato, ground meat, liver or offal, cabbage, sauerkraut, fish, hard-boiled egg (a Mennonite tradition) or a combination of these. Typical sweet fillings include quark or cottage cheese, or fruits such as sour cherries, berries and currants.
Compared to Russian pelmeni, varenyky are usually of larger size and include a much broader selection of traditional stuffings. In case of a meat stuffing, meat for varenyky is usually precooked and then minced. The pre-cooking is required due to the larger size of varenyky and the generally short boiling time of dumplings.
During preparation, the filling is wrapped with dough, boiled for several minutes in salt water, and then covered with butter or cooking oil. In certain regions of Ukraine varenyky are not boiled but steamed.
Savoury varenyky are typically topped with fried salo bits (shkvarky) and onions and accompanied with smetana (sour cream). Left-over varenyky may be fried. As a dessert, varenyky are served with smetana and sugar, varenye (jam) or honey.
Raw varenyky (with the dough uncooked) can be stored frozen, then cooked in a few minutes, which makes them a convenience food.
Other preparation methods include the Latvian tradition of glazing with egg white, baking, and serving with soup; and the Mennonite tradition of baking and serving with borscht. The Polish tradition of boiling pierogi and then frying them in butter with onions also applies to varenyky.
Lazy varenyky (Ukrainian: книдлі, ліниві вареники, Russian: ленивые вареники) in Russian and Ukrainian cuisine are gnocchi-shaped dumplings made by mixing tvoroh (curd cheese) with egg and flour into quick dough. The cheese-based dough is formed into a long sausage about 2 cm thick, which is cut diagonally into gnocchi, called halushky in Ukrainian, galushki in Russian, and kopytka in Polish. The dumplings are then quickly boiled in salted water and served with sour cream or melted butter. The name "lazy varenyky" faithfully reflects the very quick preparation time of the dish: it usually takes ten to fifteen minutes from assembling the simple ingredients to serving the cooked dumplings. Lazy varenyky differ from standard varenyky in the same way that Italian gnocchi differ from ravioli or tortellini: these are fluffy solid dumplings, not stuffed pockets of dough. A similar dish in Polish cuisine is called lazy pierogi (Polish: leniwe pierogi or kopytka).
History and cultural references
Varenyky were mentioned in the Description of Kharkov Vice-royalty, a report prepared for the Russian government in 1785: "In the evenings, [the dwellers] cook pirozhki called varenyky, with a wheat or buckwheat flour crust, and a stuffing made of fresh quark which is called cheese; these are not baked but boiled in water, which possibly gave them their name." This passage suggests that, in contrast to baked piroshki, varenyky were not yet widely known in Great Russia at that time.
Varenyky became wider known all over Russia after the publication of Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, a collection of tales by Nikolai Gogol, written in 1831-1832, which pictured peasant life in Little Russia and were heavily laced with Ukrainian folklore. In the short story Christmas Eve, varenyky magically popped out of the bowl, splashed into another bowl filled with smetana, turned over on the other side, jumped upward, and flew into the mouth of the village magician Pot-bellied Patsyuk. Due to this scene, varenyky jumping into the mouth became a symbol of gluttony and laziness in Russian and Ukrainian culture.
In Ukrainian literature varenyky appeared as a symbol of national identity, sometimes stressing its distinction from Russian. In the poem Varenyky-Varenyky (1858) by Stepan Rudansky, a Russian soldier is asking a Ukrainian countrywoman to cook varenyky for him. However, he cannot bring to mind the word "varenyky", while the woman pretends not to understand him.
A monument to varenyky was inaugurated in Cherkasy, Ukraine in September 2006. The monument erected at the entrance to a hotel shows Cossack Mamay (a Ukrainian folklore hero whose fondness for varenyky was narrated by both Taras Shevchenko and Nikolay Gogol) eating varenyky from an earthenware pot, with a huge crescent-shaped varenyk behind him.
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- "Вареники", Энциклопедический словарь Брокгауза и Ефрона, СПб., 1890–1907 ("Varenyky", Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (in Russian), St. Petersburg, 1890–1907). The dish was classified as "малороссийский" (malorossiyskiy, Little Russian), with "Малороссия" (Malorossiya, Little Russia) being at that time a common geographical term referring to the territory of modern-day Ukraine.
- "Вареники", Українські страви, Киев: Державне видавництво технiчної лiтератури УРСР, 1960 ("Varenyky", Ukrainian Dishes (in Ukrainian), Kiev: State publishing house for technical literature of Ukrainian SSR, 1960)
- Л. М. Безусенко (ред.) (2002), "Вареники", Українська нацiональна кухня, Сталкер (L. M. Bezussenko, ed. (2002), "Varenyky", Ukrainian Ethnic Cuisine (in Ukrainian), Stalker Publishers)
- В. В. Похлёбкин (2000), "Вареники", Кулинарный словарь от А до Я, Центрполиграф (William Pokhlyobkin (2000), "Varenyky", The Culinary Dictionary from A to Z (in Russian), Centrpoligraf)
- Lazy vareniki: recipe, preparation, and serving suggestion.
- Описания Харьковского наместничества конца XVIII века. Описание 1785 года. Киев, Наукова думка, 1991, стр. 68 (Descriptions of Kharkov Vice-royalty. Description of the year 1785. Kiev, Naukova Dumka, 1991, p. 68; in Russian). "К вечеру же по большой части [жители] готовят себе пирошки, называемыя вареники, которых корка из пшеничнаго или гречишнаго теста, а начинка из свежаго тварагу, которой называется сыром; и их не пекут, а варят в воде, от чего уповательно они и звание свое получили."
- Николай Гоголь. Вечера на хуторе близ Диканьки. Повести, изданные Пасичником Рудым Паньком. Вторая книжка. Санкт-Петербург. Печатано в типографии А.Плюшара. 1832 (Nikolai Gogol. Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka. First publication in St. Petersburg, 1832 (in Russian). See e.g. The Complete Tales of Nikolai Gogol. University of Chicago Press, 1985, p. 115.
- Степан Васильович Руданський, Вареники-вареники. 1-я публикация в еженедельнике Русский мир, № 21, с. 504 (Stepan Rudansky. Varenyky-Varenyky. First publication in weekly newspaper Russian World, 21, p. 504, 1859; in Ukrainian)
- A monument to vareniki in Cherkasy, Ukraine (Russian); also see a news item on gpu.ua, 27 September 2006 (Ukrainian).
- A monument to halushky in Poltava, Ukraine.
- "Giant ''perogy'' in Glendon, Alberta". Bigthings.ca. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Artist hopes a pierogi will rise in Northeast". Startribune.com. 2010-01-23. Retrieved 2012-05-17.