Monday, August 17, 2020

Gluten Free Pierogi

 Note: During these unsettling times of staying at home, many of us are spending a lot of time in our kitchens.  So it's a perfect time for trying new Polish heritage recipes. For the next several weeks we will be reprising some of our favorite recipes for Polish comfort food.


Are you eating Gluten Free (GF) these days?  Are you missing Pierogi?  Well, despair not because there is no reason to deny yourself one of life’s greatest pleasures, delicious pierogi, arguably the most popular dish of Polish cuisine.  In truth, they are no harder to make than traditional Pierogi.

Laura made a batch of GF sweet pierogi this week with a cherry filling, just to test the recipe and the gluten free flour.  They were delicious and the whole batch disappeared quickly.  

If you’ve not worked much with GF baking, the key is in the flour. 

Laura used King Arthur © brand Gluten Free Flour, which is marked “Measure For Measure Flour” on the bag.  This makes it an easy one for one substitute for regular flour. This brand consists of several types of rice flour and assorted preservatives, but more importantly, it also contains xanthan gum which replaces the gluten in regular flour and makes your dough supple.  Be sure to check the list of ingredients on your package before buying.  If you can’t find a gluten free flour with xanthan gum, you can buy it separately and add about one teaspoon of xanthan gum to one cup of other gluten free flour.  You may have to experiment a bit, but according to “Google,” the rule of thumb for GF baking is that “for every cup of gluten-free flour in a recipe, use 1 tsp of gum for cakes and cookies or pasta and 2 tsp of gum for breads and pizza.”

Feel free to use your favorite recipe for pierogi, just substituting the flour, but first read Laura’s notes below.  Here is our updated recipe which has been thoroughly tested.  

2 eggs
2/3  cup milk
¼  teaspoon salt
2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose flour
1 to 2  teaspoons xanthan gum (if needed)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water, for sealing

Whisk together the two eggs, milk and salt.  Stir in half of the flour until flour is incorporated, then add the other half and continue to stir.  When the mixture comes together to form a thick sticky dough, place the dough on a floured surface.  Note: additional flour may be incorporated if the dough is too wet or sticky.  Using additional flour knead the dough until you have a smooth, supple dough that is soft but not sticky.  Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic or cover with a bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Take half of the dough and roll it out as thin as possible on a floured surface.  Note: When rolling and cutting, be sure to use lots of flour on your board and rolling pin. It should be almost translucent, approximately 1/8th inch.  Cut the dough into 3 or 4-inch rounds or circles.

Start by assembling one tester pierogi, just to make sure of your techniques and measures.   Using your favorite pierogi filling, place a small amount in the center of a dough round.

Be sure to leave about a 1/3 inch edge around the entire circumference of your round.  Note:  Gluten free dough is a bit more “crumbly” than traditional dough, so if you use too much filling the pierogi won’t fold in half properly, the filling could spill out or dough will tear.  Also, over-stuffed pierogi can burst during cooking.   

Brush the edges of the dough circle with the beaten egg.  The egg acts as a glue to hold your pierogi together.  Fold the dough in half into a half-moon shape. 

Pinch the edges of the rounds firmly together using your fingers or the tines of a fork.  Tight sealing ensures that the edges stay together during cooking.  If your tester pierogi was good, the filling stayed inside and the seal was tight, assemble the rest of the batch.  Keep the finished pierogi covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel, as you are filling the rest of the pierogi, to prevent the dough from drying.

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil, then turn the heat down so the water is just simmering lightly.  If your water is at a high rolling boil, your pierogi may fall apart.  In batches, gently place the pierogi in the boiling water.  We only cook about ten at a time in a 6-quart pot, making sure they have room to “swim.”  And don’t let them stick to the bottom when they first go in.  When the pierogi float to the top of the water, continue to boil for 10-12 minutes.  The thicker is your dough, the longer they will need to cook – plus cooking time for gluten free pierogi will be a bit longer than pierogi made with regular flour – about 12 minutes or so.  Cut the first one open and taste, to see if the dough is cooked all the way through.  It should be the texture of moderate to firmly cooked pasta.  Remove the finished pierogi with a slotted spoon and drain.

Dessert pierogi are great when topped with a sweet sauce made from sour cream and sugar. But we love to serve savory pierogi that have been sautéed in butter and topped with caramelized onions and bacon.  Check out our Polish Classic Recipes cookbook for classic fillings and toppings. 

In closing, Celiac disease and gluten intolerances now affect many more people in the world than when most Polish classic recipes were first created.  Regardless of the why or wherefore, gluten intolerance is a reality of today’s life and anyone in the business of eating or cooking should be aware of this and other common food allergies. 

Friends:  This is a great time for exploring your Polish roots by trying some new heritage recipes.  Our books each have 45 traditional Polish dishes that have been handed down from our family or our friends’ families.  They’ve been updated for modern kitchens, so no more “pinch” of this or “glass” of that.  And each has been extensively tested, much to the delight of our friends and neighbors.  Each recipe is accompanied by beautiful photography. Each book contains poignant family stories about growing up Polish. And each book is full of helpful hints and tips to help make your dishes successful.  The books are available autographed and personally dedicated, on our website (in the U.S.) or a bit cheaper from any online bookseller such as Amazon (worldwide).  Your family will love you for it.