In school we were taught to never use a double negative. An example would be, “I ain’t got no pierogies.” OK, so we were also taught not to use the word ain’t. But, nobody ever mentioned not to use a double plural.
It’s a little bit odd to hear the word pierogies for those who speak Polish rather than Poglish, because pierogi is already plural. The singular is just pierog.
However, pieróg is a rarely used word in Poland because it refers to a Ukrainian pie type dish with similar fillings found in pierogi. So, in the old country the plural is virtually always used. Perhaps because Polish hospitality is so generous – “Take two or more they’re small” – is the fashion to follow.
For those readers unfamiliar with pierogi they are made of thinly rolled dough filled with various fillings. They were first served in the 13th century and the first written accounts come from recipe books published in the 1600s.
Common fillings for entrée pierogi are farmers’ cheese, potato and cabbage or sauerkraut. In Poland meat with onion fillings are more common. Dessert pierogi are filled with various fruits including bilberry, blueberry, strawberry and I’ve also tasted them with gooseberry on the inside.
The most common pierogi in the U.S. and Canada are known as ruskie pierogi in most of Poland. The filling is made of a combination of potato and cheese, but is not the most popular versions in the motherland. Ruskie by the way has noting to do with Russia; it refers to a prewar region in Poland called Red Ruthenia (now part of Ukraine).
In Poland its more common to fill pierogi with ground meat, mushrooms and cabbage, boiled rather than fried like here, and usually served with melted butter and sugar, or melted butter and bacon bits.
There are also regional pierogi variations. In the northeast a variety filled with lentil is popular, while around Lublin cheese and potato spiced up with dried mint makes a slightly tangy variant.
Poles traditionally dish up two types of pierogi for Christmas Eve supper. One kind is filled with sauerkraut and dried mushrooms; another – small uszka is filled only with dried wild mushrooms are served in clear borscht satisfying part of the meatless wigilia.
Once upon a time pierogi were prepared exclusively on special occasions or holidays. Interestingly, each holiday had a particular kind of pierogi assigned.
Pierogi of a completely different shape and non-meat filling was served during Christmas Eve and Easter. Weddings had a special kind of big pierogi called kurniki filled traditionally with chicken meat. Knysze were made for wakes. During a period of Christmas caroling - special pierogi known as koladki were baked.
Unfortunately, these intricate traditions are no longer cultivated in Poland and probably they are not even known to most Poles these days.
If you visit Poland you will come across some restaurants called Pierogarnia. These are eateries designed to offer pierogi in a broad array of variety. Closer to home, there were fast food/drive-thru pierogi restaurants in Cleveland and Pittsburgh in the recent past.
Although Toledo’s Echoes of Poland dance troop make a lot of pierogi each year as a fund-raiser, the Guinness record in making pierogi belongs to ten students in Wrocław, Poland. They made 1,663 pierogi in 100 minutes.
Just for fun, the Pittsburgh Pirates have so-called pierogi races during some of their home games. Suited up in pierogi costumes Sauerkraut Saul, Cheese Chester, Jalapeno Hannah and Oliver Onion take part between innings or during pitching changes.
Now you know just about everything there is to know about pierogi except perhaps: Legend has it that the largest edible pierogi ever made was during the annual Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana. It was a huge 92-pounder and certainly in this case deserving of the word pieróg. Założę się, że nie można jeść dwa. (Bet you can’t eat two)
Making pierogi is a bit time-consuming. Is it possible to easily combine the taste of pierogi dough and its filling? Well, yes it is. At least in case of sweet pierogi filled with curd cheese. Here comes lazy pierogi in Polish known as pierogi leniwe. Lazy pierogi has quite the same shape as another Polish food called kopytka (nice, small dumplings) but this is something completely different. Pierogi leniwe are made from a curd cheese, eggs and flour, then cooked in lightly salted water. Most often lazy pierogi are dished up with whipped cream, sugar & cinnamon.
Another traditional Polish stuffed dumplings, much smaller than pierogi, are known as uszka. In Poland uszka are not recognized as a kind of pierogi. Word uszka means 'little ears'.
Uszka are smaller, with a more complicated shape, usually filled with mushrooms or meat and never eaten on their own. This special kind of Polish food is dished up during Christmas Eve within red beet clear borscht or traditional dried mushroom borscht.
From Tasting Poland