Every city has their thing. For New York City and Chicago, its pizza. In Philadelphia, its Philly Cheese Steaks. For Pittsburgh? Its pierogi. A Polish dish, “pierogi” is the plural version of the traditionally polish word “pieróg.” The steel city has been obsessed with the delicious filled dumplings since very early on.
For example, every year the city holds a festival in honor of the delightfully doughy bites. At the festival, attendees can try many variations of pierogi and pierogi inspired dishes. In addition, there are also a multitude of knick-knacks, jewelry, clothing, and gifts all shaped like pierogi.
The city’s beloved baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, holds the Great Pierogi Race at PNC Park. Giant mascot pierogies, Potato Pete (blue hat), Jalapeño Hannah (green hat), Cheese Chester (yellow hat), Sauerkraut Saul (red hat), Oliver Onion (purple hat), Bacon Burt (orange hat), and Pizza Penny (checkerboard red and white hat) race around the field as on-lookers name their champion.
Most will tell you that the best pierogi’s are homemade. Although, that doesn’t keep the cultural sensation off the menu at nearly every restaurant in town. Pierogi can be filled with many different kinds of filling. You can do potato and cheese, sauerkraut, or even pizza. The most famous pierogi to date are described colloquially as “Grandma Pierogies” or “Church Lady Pierogies” usually served and sold in churches.
Just in case you don’t have access to an Eastern European grandma, here is my family’s tried and true holiday potato and cheddar pierogi recipe.
Aunt Ann’s Homemade Sour Cream Pierogi Dough and Cheddar Cheese Filling
- 2 Egg yolks
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups of flour
- Russet potatoes
- Cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Beat egg yolks, sour cream & oil together
- Add the salt and flour. Work the dough until smooth but not dry.
- Let the dough rest for at least 1/2 hour before rolling.
- Boil and mash the potatoes
- Grate the cheddar cheese
- Combine the potatoes, cheese and salt and pepper until smooth to make the filling.
- Roll the dough out & cut into squares or circles, fill with pierogi filling.
- Boil the pierogis till they rise to the top of the water..
- Brown onions in butter in a pan.
- Pour over drained pierogis.