Monday, September 26, 2005

An Ode to the Humble Pierogie

Pierogies are Poland's greatest gift to the world. They are what I eat when there is nothing to eat in the house. The brand shown at left seduced me with their whispered promises of authenticity and "Old World Flavor." But I should not have strayed from my first pierogie love, Mrs. T's. (query--Could Mrs. T be related to Mr. T? Perhaps they are married?--ed.) The potato and onion variety is the best--elegant in its simplicity.

Many pierogie manufacturers instruct you to boil the little doughy pockets, filled with mashed potato. But really, the pierogie comes into its own in a skillet. I usually soak frozen pierogies in hot water for five minutes, drain them, and dump them into a skillet with onions already sauteing in a mix of olive oil and butter. Cook until they are warmed though and browned on the outside. Add salt and pepper. Here are some of my favorite pierogie accompaniments:

  • petit pois and yellow corn
  • salsa (add fresh chiles to the onions)
  • tiny cubes of dried salami/sausage and cheddar cheese (for that real Midwest taste!)
  • smoked paprika (make sure the pierogies are extra browned, almost crispy)
  • kielbasa and fresh basil
  • sour cream (very traditional)
  • a marathon runner in his underwear (seriously)
Pierogies are, it turns out, a pretty low-brow food. Mrs. T's homepage declares the company to be the "Proud Sponsor of the AMF Bowling Association."

They seemed quite exotic to me when I first encountered them in college. A friend hosted semi-regular pierogie parties. Though they might have been more aptly called pierogie orgies. There was lots of feeding each other with our fingers. Obscene quantities of pierogies were consumed. There was an aura of mystery around their origins for me, since I had never seen them in a grocery store before. (As it turns out, many grocers stock them in the freezer case). As pierogies and I got better acquainted, though, I was pleased to discover that they are the Polish peasant equivalent of a Big Mac.

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