The Handoff: Potato and Cheese Perogies with Creamy Mushrooms
By Allison Goodings
London, UK – As I wrote on Tuesday, I have been inspired this week to return to my roots by cooking dishes that remind me of my Ukrainian family. Sarah’s dish last week used potatoes, onions, cheese and bacon in a beautiful autumnal quiche – for me, the pairing of these ingredients automatically made me think of one thing, perohy. Also known to many as perogies, these dumplings are true Eastern European peasant food and a way to turn simple, affordable and filling ingredients into the heartiest of meals.
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My grandmother and my great-aunt used to get together a couple of times a year and make enormous batches of perohy to freeze and feed their families for the next few months. They would spend hours together sitting and pinching these little parcels of dough around a variety of fillings, the most common being potatoes and cheese. In Toronto where my mother lives, you can also purchase these homemade dumplings from one of many Ukrainian churches, where once a week the Babas of the church get together and make hundreds of these dumplings while chatting and gossiping. I will admit to having smuggled a few dozen of these lovely perohy back to London with us this past summer, but it was a bit of a difficult feat getting them safely across the pond and back to our home. Probably just best to make them ourselves!
A traditional accompaniment to perohy is sautéed onions and bacon and a dollop of sour cream, but for the Relay I decided to pair these dumplings with a side of sautéed cabbage and a creamy garlicky mushroom sauce. Cabbage and mushrooms are found in many Ukrainian recipes, and for me they are also autumnal ingredients that I enjoy using at this time of year as the days grown cooler.
A trip to our local greengrocer Tony’s Continental is always a pleasure as the staff is friendly and knowledgeable about local and seasonal produce. And lucky for me, new season English onions, King Edward potatoes and English Hispy cabbages were all ready and waiting to be taken home. The mushrooms available that day were white button, cremini and oyster, but any combination of mushrooms, wild or cultivated, will do. I like to punch up the mushroom flavor in the sauce with dried wild mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil from my very special bottle from Italy’s Alba region, but both of these are optional. Some good cream and lots of garlic are essential ingredients to this sauce, which can also be used to throw over cooked pasta or baked in the oven with some chicken – assuming you have any leftover, which we never do!
Potato and Cheese Perogies with Creamy Mushrooms and Sautéed Bacon and Cabbage
Prep time: 2 hours (including resting dough)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 ¾ hours
Yield: 4-6 servings (or 2 for hungry Ukrainians!)
For the Perohy
- 1 cup sour cream (full-fat)
- 2 cups plain white flour
- 3 medium potatoes (600g), peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 ¼ cups cheddar cheese, grated (120g)
- Salt & pepper
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 Tablespoons butter
For the Creamy Mushrooms
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoons salt
- 3-4 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 lb mixed mushrooms (cremini, button and oyster), finely sliced
- 1/4 cup dried mushrooms (10g), soaked in ½ cup hot water
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced (or ½ tsp dried)
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup stock (mushroom or vegetable)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Truffle oil (optional)
- ¼ cup dill, minced
For the Sautéed Cabbage with Bacon
- 1 lb cabbage, finely sliced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 2 1/4” thick slices of bacon/pancetta, cut into rashers (75g)
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Combine flour and sour cream in a large bowl. Mix together by hand until it forms a ragged dough. Cover with a towel and let sit at room temperature for about an hour.
- Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, return to pan and mash (do not add milk or butter – mash should be dry). Add grated cheese to potatoes and stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper. Set potatoes aside to cool.
- While waiting for dough and potatoes, get started on creamy mushrooms. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan and add minced onion and salt. After a few minutes, add minced garlic. Sauté over low heat until onions are translucent.
- Add sliced mushrooms and continue to sauté over low heat. Mushrooms should give off water – continue to cook until this water has been evaporated. Add minced reconstituted mushrooms and soaking liquid. Continue to cook until liquid has evaporated.
- Sprinkle cornstarch over mushrooms and stir well. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add stock and stir until stock has thickened. Add cream. When thickened taste for seasoning (add more salt & pepper if needed) and drizzle with 2 teaspoons truffle oil if desired. Keep warm.
- Back to the perohy! Using your hands, roll out dough into 24 balls, approximately 1 ½ inches in diameter. Dough may be sticky, so keep your hands and surfaces well-floured. Place on floured tray.
- Using a rolling pin, roll each ball out to a circle, approximately ¼ inch thick. Place a ball of cooled potato/cheese filling (about a tablespoon) in the centre of dough. Fold dough over into half-moon shape and using fingers, pinch edge of dough together. It is important to go over the edges a few times and make sure that the dough is well-pinched together – if you look closely at the edge, it should look like one layer of dough, not two. This ensures that the perohy will not fall apart in cooking. If dough develops any holes, take out potato filling and start again. There is nothing more disappointing than exploding perohy! Place finished perohy on a floured tray, ensuring that the perohy do not touch each other as they will stick together.
- In a large wok or sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil for a minute. Add bacon pieces and cook over medium heat until bacon renders its fat and begins to brown. Add sliced onion and sauté another few minutes until onion is translucent. Add shredded cabbage, a pinch of salt and ¼ cup water and sauté over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until cabbage is cooked to your liking.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. When water reaches a roiling boil, add 2 Tablespoons of salt. Drop the perohy into the boiling water and give them a gentle stir. Perohy will quickly begin to rise to the surface. When all the perohy are floating on the surface, boil for another 2minutes.
- Scoop each perohy using a slotted spoon into a small frying pan where you have sautéed one minced onion in 2 Tablespoons of butter until translucent. Turn the perohy gently in the butter and onions and transfer to a casserole dish. Repeat with all perohy and pour remaining onions and butter on top.
- Serve 4-6 perohy per person with a side of cabbage and a good serving of the creamy mushrooms. You can also serve them with an extra dollop of sour cream on the side if you’re feeling particularly indulgent!
Note – Fresh uncooked perohy can be frozen on a baking sheet dusted with flour. After they have frozen through, you can pop them off the tray and put them into a plastic freezer bag where they will keep well for many months. To cook, drop them into salted boiling water as above, but time for 5-7 minutes once they rise to the surface. Drain and serve as desired.
Allison Goodings lives in London, England, and is the recipe writer for the Archer, a local community newspaper in East Finchley. When not feeding her friends and family, planning what to cook for her next meal, selling cheese at a local market or daydreaming about asparagus, she works for the Canadian High Commission.