|Alternative names||Pirogi, pirohy, pyrohy, varenyky|
|Course||Appetizer, main, dessert|
|Place of origin||Central and Eastern Europe|
|Main ingredients||Dough: flour, eggs, water
|Cookbook: Pierogi Media: Pierogi|
Pierogi (pronounced /pɪˈroʊgi/ pi-ROH-ghee, in Slovakia pi-ROH-hee), also known as varenyky, are filled dumplings of East European origin. They are made by wrapping pockets of unleavened dough around a savory or sweet filling and cooking them in boiling water. These dumplings are popular in Slavic (Polish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Russian), Baltic (Latvian, Lithuanian) and other Eastern European cuisines (such as Romanian) where they are known under local names. Pierogi and varenyky are especially associated with Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia and Canada where they are considered national dishes.
Pierogi are often semi-circular but triangular and rectangular ones are also found. Typical fillings include potato, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese and fruits. The dumplings may be served with toppings, such as melted butter, sour cream or fried onion. The traditional savory method is with onion, and sweet method with sour cream.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Ingredients and preparation
- 3 Poland
- 4 Ukraine and Ruthenia
- 5 Russia
- 6 Slovakia
- 7 Romania
- 8 Hungary
- 9 German-speaking countries and regions
- 10 North America
- 11 Lazy pierogi and lazy varenyky
- 12 In culture
- 13 See also
- 14 Notes and references
- 15 External links
The English word pierogi (plural: pierogi, pierogies or pierogis) comes from Polish pierogi [pʲɛˈrɔgʲi], which is the plural form of pieróg [ˈpʲɛruk], a generic term for filled dumplings. It derives from Old East Slavic пиръ (pirŭ) and further from Proto-Slavic *pirъ, "feast". While dumplings as such are found throughout Eurasia, the specific name pierogi, with its Proto-Slavic root and its cognates in the West and East Slavic languages, including Russian пирог (pirog, "pie") and пирожки (pirozhki, "baked pastries"), shows the name's common Slavic origins, predating the modern nation states and their standardized languages. In most of these languages the word means "pie".
Varenyky comes from Ukrainian вареники (varenyky), the plural form of вареник (varenyk), which derives from Ukrainian вар (var) 'boiling liquid', indicating boiling as the primary cooking method for this kind of dumplings.
Ingredients and preparation
Pierogi may be stuffed (singularly or in combinations) with mashed potatoes, fried onions, quark (sometimes called farmers cheese), cabbage, sauerkraut, meat, mushrooms, spinach, cheese, or other ingredients depending on the cook's preferences. Dessert versions of the dumpling can be stuffed with sweetened quark or with a fresh fruit filling, such as cherry, strawberry, saskatoon berry, raspberry, blueberry, peach, plum, or apple; stoned prunes are sometimes used as well as jam. For more flavor, sour cream can be added to the dough mixture, and this tends to lighten the dough.
The dough, which is made by mixing flour and warm water, sometimes with an egg, is rolled flat and then cut into squares with a knife or circles using a cup or drinking glass. The dough can be made with some mashed potato, creating a smoother texture. Another variation popular among Czechs and Slovaks, uses dough made of flour and curd with eggs, salt and water.
The filling is placed in the middle and the dough folded over to form a half circle. The seams are pressed together to seal the pierogi so that the filling will remain inside when it is cooked. The pierogi or vareniki are boiled until they float, drained, and sometimes fried or baked in butter before serving. They can be served with melted butter, sour cream, or garnished with small pieces of fried bacon, onions, and mushrooms]. Dessert varieties may be topped with apple sauce, jam or varenye. Some families in North America serve them with maple syrup.
Traditionally considered peasant food, pierogi eventually gained popularity and spread throughout all social classes including nobles. Some cookbooks from the 17th century describe how even during that era the pierogi were considered a staple of the Polish diet, and each holiday had its own special kind of pierogi created. There were different shapes and fillings for holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Important events like weddings had their own special type of pierogi kirniki – filled with chicken meat. There were also pierogi made especially for mourning/wakes, and some for caroling season in January.
Pierogi are an important part of Polish culture and cuisine today. They are served in a variety of forms and tastes (ranging from sweet to salty to spicy) in Polish cuisine, considered to be the national dish. They are served at many festivals, playing an important role as a cultural dish. At the 2007 Pierogi Festival in Kraków, 30,000 pierogi were consumed daily.
Pierogi are made of unleavened dough, usually shaped into a semi-circle. The most common filling is mashed potatoes. There are several variations of fillings depending on where you have pierogi. Some may include potato and cheese, mushrooms, sauerkraut, meat, potato and sour cream, fruits such as blueberry, or even spinach.
Polish pierogi are often filled with fresh curd cheese, boiled and minced potatoes, and fried onions. This type is called in Polish pierogi ruskie, which literally means "Ruthenian pierogi" (not "Russian"). Ruskie pierogi are probably the most popular kind of pierogi in North America. This variety is not necessarily the most popular in Europe, although very much liked. More popular in Poland are pierogi filled with ground meat, mushrooms and cabbage, or for dessert an assortment of fruits (berries, with strawberries or blueberries the most common).
Sweet pierogi are usually served with sour cream mixed with sugar, savory pierogi with bacon fat and bacon bits. Poles traditionally serve two types of pierogi for Christmas Eve supper. One kind is filled with sauerkraut and dried mushrooms, another – small uszka filled only with dried wild mushrooms – is served in clear borscht. Leniwe pierogi ("lazy pierogi") are a different type of food, similar to lazy vareniki (see below), kopytka, or halušky.
Ukraine and Ruthenia
The name pyrohy is common for Canadian Ukrainians. 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.
Varenyky are crescent- or more rarely square-shaped. They are stuffed with fillings such as mashed potato, ground meat, liver or offal, cabbage, sauerkraut, fish, hard-boiled egg 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 larger 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 steamed instead of boiled.
Savoury varenyky are typically topped with fried salo bits (shkvarky) and onions and accompanied with smetana (sour cream). Leftover 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; the Mennonite tradition bakes and serves them with borscht.
Compared to Polish pierogi, the combination of mashed potatoes and quark, as in pierogi ruskie, is known but not widespread, despite the Polish name recalling Rus'. The Polish tradition of boiling pierogi and then frying them in butter with onions also applies to varenyky, though it is not as common as in Poland.
Varenyky were mentioned in the Description of Kharkov Viceroyalty, 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."
Traditional Russian pirogí (пироги) and pirozhkí (пирожки) sound similar to Polish pierogi but are different dishes. Russia adopted Ukrainian-style vareniki (Russian: вареники) which are most often filled with potatoes (sometimes mixed with mushrooms), quark cheese, cabbage, berries. They can be topped with fried onions and bacon, or butter, and served with sour cream. The Russian counterparts called pelʹméni are significantly different; they are smaller, shaped differently and usually filled with raw meat.
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 Romania, a similar recipe is called colţunaşi, in Transylvania and Bucovina called piroști and in Moldova called chiroște. Colţunaşi is often a dessert filled with jam (usually plum), fresh sour cherries  or cottage cheese, or savory, filled with dill seasoned cheese (telemea or urdă), mashed potatoes or chopped meat. The dough is made with wheat flour and the colțunași are boiled in salted water, pan-fried in oil or baked in the oven.
The word is a cognate with Slavic kolduny, a type of dumplings.
In Transylvania, the name "piroști" is used in Romanian families of German or Slavic origin and the filling can also be a whole, fresh, seedless plum. The term "colțunaș" is used by native Romanian families and are usually filled with cottage cheese or quark and served topped with sour cream smântână, traditionally called "colțunași cu smântână".
In Hungarian cuisine, the equivalent of pierogi is derelye, pasta pockets filled with jam or sometimes meat. Derelye is consumed primarily as a festive food for special occasions such as weddings.
German-speaking countries and regions
The common term Pirogge (pl. Piroggen) describes all kinds of Eastern European filled dumplings and buns, including pierogi, pirozhki, pirogs and pīrādziņi. Certain types of piroggen, both boiled and baked, were common fare for Germans living in Eastern Europe and are still prepared by their descendants living there and in Germany. In particular, baked pīrādziņi are known as Kurländer Speckkuchen ("Courland bacon/speck pies") in the cuisine of Baltic Germans.
Dishes closely resembling pierogi are common in southern German-speaking regions. In particular, Schlutzkrapfen are common in Tyrol, both in Austria and in northern Italy (German-speaking South Tyrol), and are occasionally found in Bavaria. Fillings may include meat or potatoes, but the most widespread filling is a combination of spinach and quark (Topfen) or ricotta. Another similar Austrian dish, known as Kärntner Nudel (Carinthian noodles), is made with a wide range of fillings, from meat, mushrooms, potato or quark to apples, pears or mint. These regional specialties differ significantly from the most common German filled dumplings known as Maultaschen.
Pierogi are widespread in Canada and the United States, having been popularized by Central and Eastern European immigrants. They are particularly common in areas with large Polish, Ukrainian, or Ruthene populations, such as Buffalo, Chicago, Omaha, Massachusetts, Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in the US, and the provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario in Canada. Pierogi at first were a family food among immigrants as well as being served in ethnic restaurants. In the post-World War II era, freshly cooked pierogi became a staple of fundraisers by ethnic churches. By the 1960s, pierogi were a common supermarket item in the frozen food aisles in many parts of the United States and Canada. Pierogi maintain their place in the grocery aisles to this day.
While pierogi are often eaten as a main dish in Canada and European countries, Americans often consider them a side dish, often served with meat.
Numerous towns with Central and Eastern-European heritage celebrate the pierogi. The city of Whiting, Indiana celebrates the food at its Pierogi Fest every July. Pierogi are also commonly associated with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where there is a "pierogi race" at every home Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. In the race, four runners wearing pierogi costumes race toward a finish line. The village of Glendon in Alberta, Canada erected in 1993 a roadside tribute to this culinary creation: a 25-foot (7.6 m) fibreglass perogy (preferred local spelling), complete with fork.
The United States enjoys the most developed pierogi market because of its having the largest Central and Eastern European immigrant population in North America (Canada being second). Unlike other countries with newer populations of European settlers, the modern pierogi is found in a wide selection of flavors throughout grocery stores in the U.S. Many of these grocery-brand pierogi contain non-traditional ingredients to appeal to American tastes, including spinach, jalapeño and chicken.
Pierogi enjoyed a brief popularity as a sports food when Paula Newby-Fraser adopted them as her food of choice for the biking portion of the 1989 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. For more than a decade thereafter, Mrs. T's (the largest American pierogi manufacturer) sponsored triathlons, some professional triathletes and "fun runs" around the country. For many triathletes, pierogi represented an alternative to pasta as a way to boost their carbohydrate intakes. However, the pierogi trend in the United States is not dying. Several cities such as San Diego now have their own pierogi trucks with popular flavors and restaurants across the United States from San Francisco, Seattle, to New York City are adding gourmet pierogi flavors to their menus.
According to pierogi manufacturer Mrs. T's, based in Shenandoah, PA, pierogi consumption in the United States is largely concentrated in a geographical region dubbed the "Pierogi Pocket", an area including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Chicago, Detroit, parts of the northern Midwest and southern New England which accounts for 68 percent of annual US pierogi consumption.
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Canada has a large Polish population, and an even larger Ukrainian or Rusyn population, and their pyrohy, perogy or pyrogy are very common. Since Canada also has immigrants from many other perogy-making people (such as the Mennonites), a wide diversity of recipes are used. The Canadian market for perogi is second only to that of the U.S. market, the latter having been the destination of choice for the majority of Central and Eastern European immigrants before and during World War II.
Packed frozen pierogi can be found everywhere Central and Eastern European immigrant communities exist and are generally ubiquitous across Canada, even in big chain stores. Typically frozen flavours include analogs of ruskie pierogi filled with potato and either Cheddar cheese, onion, bacon, cottage cheese or mixed cheeses. Home-made versions are typically filled with either mashed potatoes (seasoned with salt and pepper and often mixed with dry curd cottage cheese or cheddar cheese), sauerkraut, or fruit. These are then boiled, and either served immediately, put in ovens and kept warm, or fried in oil or butter. Popular fruit varieties include strawberry, blueberry, and saskatoon berry.
Potato and cheese or sauerkraut versions are usually served with some or all the following: butter or oil, sour cream (typical), fried onions, fried bacon bits or kielbasa (sausage), and a creamy mushroom sauce (less common). Some ethnic kitchens will deep-fry perogies; dessert and main course dishes can be served this way. A good method is to par-boil the dumplings, then after drying, they are pan fried or deep-fried.
The frozen varieties are sometimes served casserole-style with a mixture of chopped ham, onions, peppers and Cheddar cheese or with an Italian-style mixture of ground beef, onions and tomato sauce.
National chain restaurants feature the dish or variations. Boston Pizza has a sandwich and a pizza flavoured to taste like perogies, while Smitty's serves theirs as an appetizer deep-fried with salsa. Some Chinese cafés in the Canadian Prairies have taken to billing their potstickers (jiaozi) as "Chinese perogies".
Although called varenyky in standard Ukrainian, speakers of the Canadian Ukrainian or Rusyn dialect refer to them as pyrohy, which can be misheard pedaheh or pudaheh by Anglophones unaccustomed to the rolled-r sound, or alveolar flap. This is due to the history of Ukrainian or Rusyn (Ruthenian) immigration to Canada, which came predominantly from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Lazy pierogi and lazy 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 10 to 15 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).
Pierogi are probably the only Polish dish that has its own patron saint. "Święty Jacek z pierogami!" (St. Hyacinth and his pierogi!) is an old Polish expression of surprise, roughly equivalent to the English language "good grief" or American "holy smokes!" The origin of this expression is unknown.
In Ukrainian literature varenyky appeared as a symbol of national identity, sometimes stressing its distinction from Russian. In the poem by Stepan Rudansky Varenyky-Varenyky (1858), 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 Taras Shevchenko and Nikolay Gogol) eating varenyky from an earthenware pot, with a huge crescent-shaped varenyk behind him.
A monument to halushky was inaugurated in Poltava, Ukraine in 2006. In 1991, a giant perogy on a fork was erected in the village of Glendon in Alberta, Canada. The statue is 7.6 m (24.9 ft) tall. In January 2010, a pierogi statue was proposed to be erected in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Notes and references
- In English, the word pierogi and its variants perogi, pyrogy, perogie, perogy, pirohi, piroghi, pirogi, pirogen, pierogy, pirohy, pyrogie, and pyrohy, are pronounced with stress on the letter "o".
- "pierogi". Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2005. ISBN 9780191735219.
- "varenyky". Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2005. ISBN 9780191735219.
- Ivan Andreyevsky, ed. (1890–1907), Энциклопедический словарь Брокгауза и Ефрона : Вареники (in Russian), СПб (St. Petersburg), Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary : Varenyky. 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)
- William Pokhlyobkin (Russian: В. В. Похлёбкин) (2000), Кулинарный словарь от А до Я : Вареники [Dumplings, Culinary Dictionary from A to Z: Varenyky] (in Russian), Centrpoligraf (Центрполиграф), retrieved 3 October 2015
- Food Culture in Russia and Central Asia, 2005, p 75, By Glenn Randall Mack, Asele Surina
- Bacon, cheese, onion, and mushroom topping for fried pierogi from urbancookingguide.com
- Mark Salter, Gordon McLachlan, Jonathan Buckley. Poland: the rough guide, 1991 and Joey Porcelli, Clay Fong. The Gyros Journey: Affordable Ethnic Eateries Along the Front Range, 2006]
- "Annual Pierogi Festival in Whiting, Indiana". Pierogi Fest.
- 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.
- "COLŢUNÁŞ" (in Romanian). DEX on line.
- http://www.libbyzay.com/daytoday/2011/05/recipes-sunday-dinner-moldovan/%7CRecipes from Abroad: Sunday Dinner in Moldova
- Hai la masa!: Coltunasi
- Derelye recipe from chew.hu
- "Pirogge". Duden Wörterbuch. Dudenverlag.
- Nadia Hassani (2004). Spoonfuls of Germany: Culinary Delights of the German Regions in 170 Recipes. Hippocrene Books.
- Alfons Schuhbeck (2012). Meine Klassiker (in German). Gräfe Und Unzer. ISBN 9783833831768.
- Jeremy and Jessica Nolen (2015). Schlutzkrapfen, the twin of one of Poland's most recognizable food exports. New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited (Chronicle Books). pp. 178–179. ISBN 1452136483. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- Lia Miklau (1984). Kärntner Kochbüchl. Klagenfurt: Verlag Johannes Heyn. ISBN 3-85366-202-1.
- Mimi Sheraton (2010). Maultaschen. The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking (Random House Publishing Group). pp. 115–. ISBN 030775457X. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
Dumplings are to the German cuisine what pasta is to the Italian.
- Nadejda Reilly (2011). Vareniki (Pierogi). Origin (Xlibris Corporation). p. 20. ISBN 1462859151. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- "World's Largest Pierogi" in Glendon, Alberta, from bigthings.ca
- Carter, Tom (27 September 1990). "Pierogies replace pasta in popularity". Washington Times. p. D2.
- Mrs. T's Triathlon, Chicago (2000), from active.com
- Stein, Ricki (10 April 1991). "High-Carbo Pierogies Score Points With Triathletes". The Morning Call. p. D1.
- Perfect Perogy Casserole from Cheemo Recipes Page www.cheemo.com
- Lazy vareniki: recipe, preparation, and serving suggestion.
- Polish Heritage Cooker by Robert Strybel, Maria Strybel, 2005 p. 456
- 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.
- Media related to pierogi at Wikimedia Commons
- The dictionary definition of pierogi at Wiktionary
- The dictionary definition of varenyky at Wiktionary
- Pierogi at Wikibook Cookbooks