Cottage Cheese Pierogies (Vareniki)
The origin of this meal is debatable. I think that many Slavic nations would fuss about Mennonite community claiming them theirs, but this recipe is not about that. Many people love these decadent treats worldwide. And what’s not to love? The circles of dough can be filled with just about anything – cottage cheese, berries, potatoes, mushrooms, and all kinds of meat. Russians prefer them with traditional ground pork and beef mix, but the ones with cottage cheese are second best.
While the dough for all of them is universal, the filling from cottage cheese is tough to make simply because cottage cheese is neither popular in the US, nor very good. Dairy farmers are staying away from making unprocessed cottage cheese due to fears of listeria. Store bough cottage cheese is different in every state and nothing like traditional European one. This leads to problems making vareniki, but using some imagination can help solve those problems.
For example, you can use a mix of dry cottage cheese, sour cream, buttermilk, and heavy cream to recreate the old fashion style. This type of cottage cheese will be sour and as traditional as it gets. If you prefer pierogis with more sweet cottage cheese, you can use dry curd cottage cheese without all other ingredients.
Making pierogies takes time and many hands, so my recommendation is to prepare them on Saturday and include the entire family. That way the work will go faster and some meaningful family memories will be made along the way.
- 2 cups of milk
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp of salt
- 7-8 cups of flour
- 500 ml dry curd cottage cheese
- 2 tbsps. of heavy cream
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
Dough making is pretty simple. First beat all 4 eggs and then add 2 cups of milk, salt, and 7 cups of flour in the mixer and mix it slowly or gently fold by hand. Once the dough is formed continue adding flour until the dough is firm and doesn’t stick. This last step should absolutely be done kneading by hand.
Place ready dough in the fridge while you make the filling.
For the filling take dry curd cottage cheese, heavy cream, the 1 egg, salt and pepper, and mix all that in the bowl.
Next take a portion of dough and roll it out on a table or cutting board. It should be about 1/8” – 1/4” thick. Then cut out circles or squares. I prefer circles. Any glass rim or a lid will work for circle cutting.
Put about one teaspoon of cottage cheese into each pierogi’s middle, fold, pinch, and seal.
Fresh pierogis can be boiled right away or frozen and bagged for later use. If you choose to freeze them, place pierogis on baking paper and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen hard, you can collect them and put them in bags.
If you want to cook them right away, boil water with a pinch of salt, place your vareniki in, and boil while occasionally stirring for a few minutes, until done and soft.
I like them served with butter and sour cream, but you can experiment with various sauces. Have fun making them and enjoy!