Unless you have a Babci to make them for you from scratch, a quality pierogie-seeker is going to want to either venture to Greenpoint, Brooklyn or their local church for some of these voluptuous treats. If you don’t have access to any of the above, it’s time to head to the supermarket.
There really is no bad pierogie—that’s one of the best things about the dainty ethnic foodstuffs—they’re always tops. Pierogies make great meals. They make great desserts. They’re wonderful conversation pieces and are sublime for first dates. And pierogies are always in season, whether it be the dead of winter or the sunny days of summer. Beach season is upon us, dear eaters. Bathing suit season is here. A solid dumpling heavy in starch and marinated in butter will surely bring you joy out among the sands.
Those of you who have not experienced a pierogie are surely missing out. And we can‘t have that, not here, at least. There is a lot of joy crammed within those puppies, and it is a happiness meant to be shared. Pierogies unite cultures. They bring people together: Irish, Polish, Middle Eastern, Italian, Ethiopian, the list goes on and on and on. There’s no wrong way to cook a pierogie. And they’re so [expletive] good.
Originally, this column was to be titled “Midnight Meat Pies” and consist of me slaughtering six slabs of four-day old Stuffed Meat slices from Phil’s Pizzeria in Syosset (leftovers from our “Buy Heroin Here” dinner) that I had brought home from the Press kitchen. The feeding was to have lasted into the early morning hours, involved a heft dose of Law & Order SVU and potentially a mint-chocolate-chip double thick milkshake from Carvel. Alas, ’twas not to be for this column, fellow golumpki foragers. Not this week, at least. Someone had gotten to them before I.
So instead, Tommy D and I stopped off at Waldbaum’s and picked up a 24-pack. No, not of Yuengling Black & Tans, but rather, two dozen America’s Choice ($1.99 per dozen) Pierogies. Frozen pierogies are one of those great, quick, tasty meals you can cook for your family and friends if you don’t have a lot of money but still want a solid food source of sustenance. We mixed up the batch: cheddar cheese and potato and onions.
Tommy D prepared the water, dumping one to two teaspoons of olive oil into a three-quarter-full pot and bringing it to a boil. The olive oil, Tommy explained, keeps the noods from sticking to the walls of the pot and each other. It also brings the water to a boil faster, he explained—an old Italian trick passed down through generations of Ds—something with the molecular structures of olives and water. The olive oil also adds an every-so-slight flavor to the dumps, making for a smooth swallow and preventing the potato-cheese pods from sticking to the sides of the esophagus on the way down.
Pierogies are great boiled or fried. We opted for both, first boiling them then plopping them on a frying pan coated with butter. Flip when browned. Pierogies are also very versatile. They really do go great with nearly everything—carrot slivers, kraut, cucumbers, avocados—but they really go best with a few dollops of fresh sour cream. We happened to have a container of the good stuff—remnants of a homemade taco splurge about a week back. Another story, for another time.
Tommy D, keeping with his family’s tradition, prepared a side bowl of tomato sauce to dress the dumplings. We divided the bounty into four plates of six each. And it really did feed four people. (Remember: The pierogies were $1.99 for a dozen.)
My sisters, more pierogie purists than radicals, didn’t care too much for the Italian twist to the dish. They stuck with the sour cream. They also couldn’t finish theirs and only ate four each—so I picked up their slack and downed a total of 10. I took turns switch-hitting and slather-dunking between the creamy delight of the sour cream and the tangy caress of the sauce. Tommy’s poetic license added a new dimension to the experience. The sauce was sweet, flavorful and thick. There were chunks of tomato in there, onions, herbs and the like. It coated the pierogie like a gorgeous, soothing blanket, and I was happy to tug and pull it off. I even mixed some with the sour cream.
Once again, proof, that there really is no wrong way to prepare a pierogie and that the weighty dumps cross ethnic and cultural walls with ease, uniting eaters from across the globe under the shared goal of a quality meal.
In between forkfuls, we spoke of saints and aliens and hospitals and China. We laughed and joked, gulped and slurped. Tommy D shared a rather bizarre and sad story about an old cat that had wandered into his family’s business recently to die. A statue of St. Therese overlooked the table. Our dog, Princess Leia (aka Professor Mouskavitch), wanted some pierogie, too. Midway through the feast, one of my sisters cracked open a can of Shasta.
Family, friends and pierogies: What a great way to spend a Saturday night.