Daring Cooks August: Pierogi!

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The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

I used to really love pierogi back when I was a gluten-eating vegetarian. I’d get the potato and cheddar kind from my local grocery store and boil a batch up, then fry them in butter and onions. Served with a generous amount of sour cream, they certainly were not diet food!

However, now I eat gluten-free and vegan. And all pierogi recipes contain gluten and some sort of milk product (cream, cottage cheese….) and often eggs too. So I had a fair bit of converting to do.

My filling was the easy part. I just took some of the vegetables from my CSA that week and cooked them up. I lightly sauteed some onions and garlic, then added in shredded carrot and some cumin, salt and pepper. To add texture, I added in some cooked chickpeas, half of which I mashed before adding. The filling was really tasty on it’s own, and while it wasn’t exactly traditional, it was delicious.

The dough was trickier. I started out with this recipe, which gave me a good vegan base. Since I didn’t have any vegan ‘yogurt’ but did have some ‘sour cream’ I decided to substitute that. I also had to come up with a flour combination that worked, and used sorghum, quinoa, rice and cornstarch.

Getting the dough’s consistency right was hard, to be honest. I had to keep adding in a bit of flour to get it to be not too sticky, and when rolling it out, I had to be careful to add lots of flour to the counter. This is no surprise – gluten-free doughs aren’t known for handling in the same way that gluteny doughs do! But I kept at it until I had something workable.

I used a pint glass to cut my rounds and very carefully shaped the dough around some filling. The dough was a bit crumbly, so I sometimes used a bit of water to help keep it together.

After shaping all my pierogi I boiled them in small batches, then pan fried them until brown and crispy.

The resulting product was quite tasty! Rich liked them as well, and said they were actually better than some of the pierogi he’s had, as gluteny ones can be a bit gummy (but mine were not).

Daring Cooks August: Pierogi

Would I attempt these again? Probably! But I have some work to do on the dough recipe. If you want to try what I did, the recipe is below.

Gluten-free, vegan pierogi dough

A work in progress!

1 cup sorghum flour
1.5 cups cornstarch
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz plain vegan yogurt or vegan sour cream product
1/2 to 3/4 cup water

Mix your flours well in a medium bowl. Add in the salt and yogurt or sour cream and mix again. Then, add in your water 1/4 cup at a time, making sure to mix very well between additions. What you’re looking for is the dough to come together into a ball and not be too sticky. At some point you will probably need to abandon your spoon and just mix with your hands.

Once your dough comes together, let it rest for about 30 minutes to make sure the water is well absorbed into the flours. Then, turn the dough out onto a well floured (use whichever flour you like, I used rice) surface and roll it out to be about a 1/4 inch thick. Yes, that’s thicker than most pierogi dough, but this gluten-free dough does not hold together well if it is too thin, and I found this thickness was perfectly tasty in the final product.

Cut rounds about 4 inches in diameter from the dough. Fill each round with a tablespoon of filling (your choice!), then fold the round over so you’re making a half circle shape. Then, gently seal the filling into the dough with your fingers. You may want to use a fork to crimp the edges.

Boil enough water to cover a single layer of pierogi in a medium pot. When at a rolling boil, add in a few pierogi (I was able to boil 6 at a time) and boil for 5 minutes. While the first batch is boiling, get a frying pan heating with a little oil. When the 5 minutes is up, transfer the first batch with a slotted spoon into your frying pan and fry until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. You can keep boiling more pierogi as you pan fry each batch to keep the assembly line going.

Serve with vegan sour cream. I also liked these with some spicy curry sauce we got from our CSA.

Daring Cooks August: Pierogi

If you want to see what others did with this recipe, just check out the Daring Kitchen!

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