A painstaking process filled with Polish pride, the pierogi is the Polish version of a dumpling or ravioli.

It is a painstaking process filled with Polish pride, so pierogies are not taken lightly in my family.

Considering there is a lot of butter, sour cream, sauerkraut and potatoes involved there is nothing light about the ethnic holiday tradition of eating a plate(s) of pierogies.

For those who don't know, the pierogi is the Polish version of a dumpling or ravioli.

Only butter, I mean, better.

It starts with a quick boil and then moved to a pan filled with butter to be fried with onions and/or mushrooms.

After my grandma died more than 20 years ago, I went a long time without enjoying a fresh pierogi (Mrs. T's in the grocery stores' freezer section just doesn't compare) until finding out my cousin's father-in-law makes them every Christmas Eve and Easter here in Arizona.

The first time I had them, I couldn't get enough.

It was nostalgic more than anything. So many memories of grandma essentially force feeding me pierogi after pierogi. There is no arguing with a Polish grandma wielding a wooden spoon.

If she made it, you were going to eat it. Or your health would be at risk for reasons other than all of the cholesterol you just ingested.

The reason I went so long without having fresh ones is no one likes the process of making them.

Depending on how many you are to make, plan on a good four- to six-hour window.

First you have to make the dough, then the filling and then cut the dough once the filling is placed on the dough. After that, there is the folding over of the dough and the crucial crimping of the sides.

After that, you have to prepare to freeze them, another drawn out process, assuming you are making them in mass quantity.

You just have to keep reminding yourself of the wonderful end result and you will be all right.

"We have a four- or five-person crew and it takes about four hours over two days," said Randy Walters, owner of Pittsburgh Willy's Gourmet Hot Dogs in Chandler. "We have found a niche here in the East Valley because you can't find them from scratch. No one wants to take the time."

One of the best traditional recipes on the Internet can be found at http://home.comcast.net/~dyrgcmn/Pierogi/pierogi.html.

If the thought of going through that process sounds like too much, I have come across a few different locales in the Valley that have pierogies.

The closest is Pittsburgh Willy's, 1509 N. Arizona Ave. in Chandler, located inside the Merchant Square Antique Mall. Others I have heard about, but haven't tried, are Stanley's Sausage, 2201 E. McDowell Road in Phoenix, and Europa Pastry Café, 6522 N. 16th St. in Phoenix.

Pittsburgh Willy's also takes orders for those wanting to make them at home.

"I'm Italian and German, but grew up in a neighborhood in Pittsburgh with a lot of Polis and Ukrainians," Walters said. "Everyone made everything from scratch for the holidays and now we are sharing that with our customers."

No offense to Walters or anyone else making them, none of these places can do my grandma's pierogies justice, but what they do is take me back to her house in Parma, Ohio.

A place where she was always in the kitchen, especially during the holidays, cooking up piles of food just in case someone in the family came over.

It didn't matter if they were hungry or not. It was time to sit down and eat.

Otherwise it was time to get out the wooden spoon.


(1) comment


As a former Polish girl from Parma I'm happy to know where to buy pierogies in town. For the past 21 yrs. I've had my pierogies sent from the Ukrainian church on State Rd.[smile]

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.