Bob Renner calls Ukraine “the breadbasket of Europe,” because wheat and potatoes are so abundant there. That’s why pierogi (spelled “pyrohy” in Ukrainian) are so popular: They’re an inexpensive yet tasty dinner to feed large families.

Locally, Renner oversees a sizable crew of volunteers, most with Ukrainian heritage, who gather most weeks to make pierogi by the hundreds of dozens at St. Andrews Ukrainian Church in Parma. Combined, they bring more than 250 years’ experience to the art of making this potato-filled, pastalike dish.

The group speaks — and often sings — in Ukrainian while stuffing, folding and pinching these pierogi.

“Every country has their ravioli,” says Renner. “This is ours.”

Too busy to cook?
St. Andrews in Parma sells its homemade pierogi every Friday, fall through spring, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $5.50 a dozen (7700 Hoertz Road, 440-843-9149). Proceeds help redecorate the church.

St. Andrews’ Pierogi
[makes 3 to 4 dozen]

Pierogi Dough
3 1/2 cups Sapphire flour (because of its high gluten percentage)
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 cup lukewarm water

Mix water, sour cream and eggs. Add flour and salt, and mix until dough is tacky. Knead dough on a lightly floured board until smooth [ 1 ] Do not overwork. Divide the dough into two parts, and form balls.

Roll dough into 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch rounds. [ 2 ]

Roll out remaining dough, then cut into rounds. Do not roll the dough out a third time or it will get tough. Brush extra flour off the dough.

Potato Filling
5 pounds Idaho or Russet potatoes
1/4 pound Velveeta cheese (cubed)
1/4 pound American cheese (cubed)
Pinch of salt
Dash of white pepper

Boil peeled and cubed potatoes, draining liquid when done. Whip in cheese. Add salt and pepper. Mix until cheese is melted and potatoes are smooth. Let cool.

Roll filling into 1 1/2-inch balls or use 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop.

Assembling and Cooking the Pierogi

Place filling in center of dough round. Use thumb to press down lightly on potatoes. Fold dough over and pinch edges together [ 3 ]. Drop pierogi into large pot of rolling, boiling, heavily salted water. Do not overfill.

Stir gently once. Let boil until pierogi float to the top (3 to 5 minutes).

Let boil for 3 minutes more. Remove and drain. Toss with melted butter.

Secrets of the Family Recipe

[ 1 ] Let the dough rest for 10 minutes after kneading. Otherwise, it will shrink after rolling.
[ 2 ] You don’t have to invest in a fancy dough-cutter. Use the top of a traditional teacup or the rim of a glass.
[ 3 ]Pinch the middle of the half-circle first, and then work your way to the edges, making sure there are no open holes. Make sure no filling seeps through and that there is no flour on the edges, as this will prevent the sides from sealing.

Share this story: