wild mushroom pirogies

Less than six degree’s separation from my absorption with diminutive baked goods is an almost equally powerful obsession with all forms of stuffed dough, from wontons, gyoza and pot stickers to tortellini, ravioli and turnovers. I am a woman obsessed with eating every type of dumpling this big world has to offer; something about the possibility of biting into something both mysterious and fantastic gets me every time, and forgives the fact that no matter how easy a filling is to whip up, one will inevitably be stuffing, crimping, folding, pressing, deflating and sealing up the little guys up for an hour.

pressing edges, sexy blue sweatpants

Last night we welcomed dumpling season with a lazy girl’s wild mushroom pirogies, lazy because although pirogi/vareniki dough is quite simple to make, it’s got nothing on the simplicity of tearing open a packet of wonton wrappers. I couldn’t resist cutting them into their proper round shape, however, and with a scalloped-edged cutter to boot so they ended up looking as festive as our wine-drenched spirits felt. Their deep, earthy flavor has little in common with the more-popular potato, meat or cabbage varieties, but this doesn’t mean that you should skimp on the butter-fried onions, vinegar if you are Alex and sour cream if you are me. (Though I have been known to top mine with all of the above, drawing disapproving clucking from the Russians.)

scallop-edged pierogies
discarded (not the wine)

In fact, they have more in common with a dish of porcini tortellini my friend Dan and I ate in Venice almost seven (7!) years ago, something I have tried endlessly to recreate but never gotten it just so. (Probably because I am also not freezing in a too-thin coat with just $40 to spend on a hotel room. Perhaps a little method cooking would do the trick.) A pinch of ricotta and a fold this way instead of that, I bet you could plunk these in a thin tomato broth and pretend that you are eating along centuries old canals on the second day of this century without a care in the world. In my kitchen at least, it’s all related.

wild mushroom pirogies

Wild Mushroom Pirogies
Adapted from Gourmet, February 2001

Makes 6 (main course) servings.

For filling
1 cup boiling water
2/3 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 medium onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For onion topping
1 lb onions, chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

Accompaniment: sour cream

Special equipment: a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter

Make filling: Pour boiling water over porcini in a small bowl and soak until softened,10 to 20 minutes. Lift porcini out of water, squeezing excess liquid back into bowl, and rinse well to remove any grit. Pour soaking liquid through a paper-towel-lined sieve into a bowl and reserve.

Finely chop onion and garlic in a food processor, then add cremini and porcini and pulse until very finely chopped.

Heat butter in a skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook mushroom mixture, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are dry and 1 shade darker, about 8 minutes. Add reserved soaking liquid and simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick, dry, and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes (there will be about 1 cup filling). Stir in parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Cool completely.

Roll out dough and fill pierogies: Halve dough and roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface into a 15-inch round, keeping remaining dough wrapped. Cut out rounds (about 24) with floured cutter. Put 1 teaspoon filling in center of each round. Working with 1 round at a time, moisten edges with water and fold in half to form a half-moon, pinching edges together to seal. Transfer pierogies as assembled to a flour-dusted kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining rounds, then make more pierogies with remaining dough and filling.

Cook onions and pierogies: Cook onions in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Cook pirogies in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to skillet with onions. Toss gently to coat and serve immediately.

Do ahead: Filling can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Filled pierogies can be frozen 1 month. Freeze on a tray until firm, about 2 hours, then freeze in sealable plastic bags. Thaw before cooking.

Pirogi and Vareniki Dough
Makes enough for about 48 pierogies or 32 varenikis.

1 cup all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading and rolling
3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

Stir together flours in a bowl. Make a well in flour and add eggs, salt, and water, then stir together with a fork without touching flour. Continue stirring, gradually incorporating flour into well until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding only as much additional flour as needed to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. (Dough will be soft.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes.

Do ahead: Dough may be made 2 hours ahead, wrapped well in plastic wrap and chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.

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40 comments on wild mushroom pirogies

  1. I’ve been working with the wonton wrappers lately too – wonton soup last week and pot stickers just the other night. All of it was wonderful, and now I think I’ll have to buy another pack of wrappers to make ravioli or these pierogis.

    P.S. I’m a sour cream on my pierogi kind of girl too.

  2. tammy

    We make a Charlie Trotter At Home Recipe – Crispy Chicken Wonton’s – Scallions, Rasins, Chicken, Sesame Seeds with an Apricot Puree dipping Sauce. Won Tons are wonderful and so easy to use. If you want the recipe let me know – It’s a great evening appetizer – Sometimes I even use it just as an entree! Yummy!
    Have a wonderful Turkey Day. Off to Philadelphia to see the family! Yay!

  3. Well, well, now you definitely have to come to the Dumpling Party on January 21st.

    I’ve been looking for a good pierogi dough recipe, so I’ll definitely be giving yours a try. Thanks for posting it! (I tend to like mine with potatoes and onions on the inside, and sour cream on the outside, though now I’m brainstorming about other fillings that could work.)

  4. Theresa

    Deb – That looks absolutely delicious – as usual!! Quick question: If a recipe calls for unsalted butter, is it okay to use salted instead? Also it’s worth noting that the amount I have to use is relatively small. I hope that you & Alex, along with your families, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  5. RA

    YUM. More mushroom things to make! I think a mushroom party would be fun, but if I seriously did that, I would be the only one in attendance… hmm…

  6. deb

    Jessie – I’m itching to make some chicken wonton soup, since I have both friends and family that don’t eat pork. In addition, there is a beef and broccoli wonton recipe on Epicurious I’ve had bookmarked for nearly three months now. Dumpling season est arrive!

    Tammy – That sounds really good. Of course, Alex has some weird issues with raisins, worse, raisins in savory dishes, but you know, he’s just wrong. Have a great holiday!

    Danielle – Of course, I haven’t actually tested that recipe but the reviewers on Epicurious all sing its praises. Let me know how it goes!

    Theresa – I actually use salted butter in almost all of my recipes,even when unsalted is called for — just a personal preference. In addition, salted butter keeps about 2 weeks longer in the fridge than the unsalted variety. However, if I am concerned about the salt level in a baked good, I will not also add the salt the recipe suggests. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  7. I made a similar wild mushroom periogi a little while ago. I was lucky enough to receive a variety of wild mushrooms from a friend so mine included oyster mushrooms, shiitakes and morels.

  8. Do I hear a cheer for Empanadas?? How about empanadas??

    I made them for one of my final projects in culinary school, and boy oh boy did I nearly go senile and run screaming out the door after spending 10 minutes pulling the filling together, and nearly an hour and a half with the actual assembly. They are, however you make them, well worth the effort, as any little homemade stuffed pocket can be.

  9. Jenifer from Memphis


    These look fabulous! I, too, am a sour cream and pierogi girl. I think I’m going to mandate that my boyfriend take me to Katz’s for dinner sometime this weekend so I can enjoy a few.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. deb

    Luisa – Absolutely not, well except the prospect of just eight days of daily posting left. :) (Probably not the best time to mention this, but I’m going to be at the in-laws for two days and have no idea how I will post between Friday and Saturday. I’ve made it 22 days, half of them with a broken wing, and this is what foils me? I’ll think of something…)

    Brilynn – Yum! I love a fancy mix of mushrooms on hand, but I also love that sometimes the smallest pinch of dried porcini or cepe allow you to get that flavor with less expense. Can’t beat getting them for free, though.

    Kate – I haven’t made empanadas yet, but I’ve certainly eyeballed a lot of recipes that look delicious. I think they’re perfect to bring to a dinner party… I’ll get right on that!

    Agnes – Is it? I’ve always spelled them pierogi but then my Firefox spell-checker said pirogi so I second-guessed myself. According to Wikipedia (the height of reliability, of course) it can be spelled pierogi, perogi, perogy, piroghi, pirogi, or pyrohy; Merriam-Webster just says pierogi or pirogi. Can you tell I’m a little obsessed? Inquiring minds!

    Jenifer – Ooh, I have never had Katz’ pierogi/pirogi. Do report back! And have a great holiday.

  11. Yvo

    Oh yum! Actually I had Russian food for the first time last night and on the table were pelmeni. I mused later that it seems in nearly every cuisine, there is an item that is basically stuffed dough, be it fried, boiled, steamed, what have you. I guess it’s so comforting to have everythign in one package? :) (It was really good too. Uncle Vanya’s, midtown west. yum!) And I’ve had a package of wonton wrappers in my freezer for two months now with the vague notion I’d make ravioli from them. Mmm.. thin skinned ravioli. Maybe I’ll use your filling idea :)

  12. Sarah Bobroweicki

    I cant wait to try the wonton wrappers!I make pirogies every year for gifts at Christmas! YOU HAVE MADE MY LIFE SO MUCH EASIER!

  13. Chelle

    I love pierogies! I’m very much a potato and cheese girl and I like to take the sour cream one step further and use onion dip. It’s like having chips for dinner but much much better. These sound really good and I’ll have to try them. Luckily my family is mostly a bunch of mushroom fans!

  14. Diana

    These look so good! You can also try filling pierogi with fresh blueberries and a little sugar or apples in the fall. Family favorites. :) Fruit filled pierogi don’t taste as great as leftovers so don’t make too many.

    If you’re going to get picky with spelling “pierogi” is the Polish spelling and the other ways of spelling it depends on the country. And never add “-es” to the end because it’s already plural.

  15. Very stupid question, but I just purchased a bag of pastry flour. Is this the same as cake flour? I know this should probably be obvious but I figured I should double check. Thanks!

  16. Julie

    This was my first attempt making pierogi–wow, they are time-consuming! I used the dough recipe provided and it worked out great. However, roll the dough as thin as you can possibly get it or else you’ll end up with tough little dumplings. If only I had a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid! Thanks!

  17. NinaK

    I LOVE this recipe. I have been making it since they published it in Gourmet. It is time consuming, however. Can’t someone come up with a way to speed up caramelized onions?

  18. Dom

    Hi there – just a quick note: the Polish word for your “pierogies” pierogi is already plural! There is no singular form. Think of jeans – you wouldn’t say I’m putting on my jean, or I bought two pairs of jeanses :)

  19. Dom

    Also the traditional way to serve pierogi (esp meat/mushroom filled varieties) is with chopped up onions and bacon fried in butter. The taste and saltiness that the bacon (not the strips but the pieces) adds is a totall must!

  20. BRidget

    Is it possible to use ordinary mushrooms instead of wild? The wild mushrooms at the market today didn’t look too great, but I have my heart set on pierogi for dinner tonight!

    1. deb

      Absolutely. Brown mushrooms/cremini are some of my favorite to cook with and have (IMHO) an almost exact intensity of flavor when well-cooked as wild mushrooms.

  21. Sofya

    Made these last night- delicious! Realized once we got home from the supermarket that we didn’t have any all-purpose flour so had to use whole wheat. Then imagine the horror when we realized 1/2 way through that we were out of sour cream! (I’m Russian; it’s basically it’s own food group)- however, everything turned out delicious, even without sour cream

  22. Melissa Janiszewski

    I don’t know how these will compare to my grandmother’s Pierogi, but I can’t wait to try them!
    I thought you should also know that you spelled Pierogi wrong.

  23. Jeanne

    We were in Venice at the same time. Turn of the new century and introducing the Euro — it was fun to help the Italian clerks manage decimals, when they were used to multiples of 1000 with lira. And OMG yes was it COLD. And nowhere was really heated except restaurants — we’d fall asleep over first-course soups because we were warm for the first time all day.

  24. Lea

    hi Deb — I can’t stop thinking about eating a heaping plate of traditional potato-filled pierogi and cannot find them in my neighborhood. Do you have a recipe (or a good source for a recipe) for this filling? (full disclosure — I’m super pregnant, and this kid growing inside of me is DEMANDING!) Thanks for all of your amazing — and kind of perfect every time — recipes.

  25. Ania

    Hi, just wondering if there is any reason this couldn’t be made in a stand mixer? By how many minutes would you recommend reducing the kneading time (using a dough hook) in this case?
    Thank you so much for all of your hard work, every recipe of yours is a success!

  26. deb

    Hi Ania — I’m not sure how you’d need a stand mixer for this? It’s a saute-and-stir thing so using a big machine seems unnecessary. But I’m sure I missed something so please feel free to tell me I’m making no sense. :)

  27. Hannah

    Hidden gem of a recipe! Made these after trying the pelmini (also great, but alas too much work for a weeknight). They actually didn’t work for me as pierogues—the generic dumpling wrappers I got from the grocery store were WAY too thin—but then I tried fry/steaming them potsticker style and eating them with soy sauce and they were EXCELLENT. I know your more recent recipes are more extensively tested and foolproof, but I wanted to share a riff I had done on this one as the mushroom filling is flavorful yet versatile (and so easy!)