Saturday, February 2, 2013

Buffalo Blue Cheese Pierogies

I'm a big fan of pierogies. I have been since I first started cooking when I was 12. My mom would usually have a bag of them in the freezer, so at least once a week or so I'd cook a batch of them with sauteed broccoli, red peppers and onions in a creamy parmesan sauce for dinner. I'm pretty sure it was my sister's favorite thing to eat when we were kids.

Since growing up I stopped making pierogies with a fattening cream sauce, but I do usually buy a bag once a month to toss with steamed broccoli for an easy meal; although they seem unhealthy (hello carbs!), they actually aren't bad for you if you pump them up with veggies and make a thin sauce using pasta water.

Let me preface this recipe with the following:

1. These are not healthy. In no sense of the word. They are carby, cheesy and buttery, and may be one of the most delicious things I've made all year. Every once in a while it's important to cook foods just for the fun of it, though, and not worry about the calories.

2. These are not something you want to make for a crowd (unless you make them ahead of time). They're fun to make, but are a bit time consuming. Rather than stressing out trying to make these for a dinner party, I enjoyed taking my time and leisurely making them on a Friday night for a late dinner for two. A glass of wine, some good music and conversation with my better half, and a pasta project; it's good for the soul.

I was game for trying my hand at homemade pierogies, but truth be told I would've just made a classic version. The buffalo-blue cheese potato/pasta combination was Matt's love child. And he was right - the flavor was so unexpected yet familiar, and perfect in pierogi form.

I figured if I was going to the trouble of making these I may as well make a ton, so I made enough for three meals. Matt and I each ate a plateful for dinner, and I still have a giant Ziploc bag full sitting in the freezer. Once they're frozen it's no trouble to cook them off, so you could definitely make them ahead of time and then cook and serve 'em whenever you get a craving. I plan to put my frozen extras to good use by serving them as an appetizer the next time we have people over.

It's probably better to share the wealth rather than inhaling an entire second batch in the darkness of my living room with the shades closed and my eyes glued to Season 3 of Sons of Anarchy. Sick of me talking about SOA yet? I didn't think so.

The last thing I'll mention is that if you don't want to make the pasta dough yourself, you can definitely buy handmade pasta sheets in the grocery store (I think Buitoni makes them), or I bet you could also use wonton wrappers. If you use wonton wrappers you won't get that fresh pasta dough texture, but they would still be tasty and would come out nice and crunchy when you fry them in butter and hot sauce.

Probably gonna have to make the rest of these for Superbowl tomorrow.

Buffalo Blue Cheese Pierogies

Serves 6-8 (depending on the size of your pierogies)

Ingredients - Filling
4 medium red bliss potatoes (not skinned), washed and cut into chunks
1/4 cup skim milk
4 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. olive oil

Ingredients - Pasta
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour (plus more for kneading)

Ingredients - Sauce (sauce enough for 2 servings)
4 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. hot sauce (more or less depending on how hot you like it)
2 celery stalks + celery leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing (optional)

To make the pasta: In a mixer, beat together egg, milk, water and salt. Add flour 1 cup at a time, until fully blended. Turn dough onto a floured board and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Put a clean bowl over the dough and let it rest for about 20 minutes. While the dough is resting, make the filling.

To make the filling: Cook the potatoes in salted water until fork-tender. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a pan over medium heat and add olive oil and sliced onions; cook the onions for about 8-10 minutes, until soft and caramelized.

Drain the cooked potatoes and put in a mixing bowl; mash lightly and then add milk, caramelized onions, blue cheese, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Whip until smooth.

To assemble: Cut the pasta dough into 4 equal parts. Feed through a pasta maker on your mixer at a Level 1 a few times until smooth (alternatively, roll the dough out with a rolling pin until about 1/4 inch thick). Cut the rolled-out strips of pasta dough into 3x3 inch squares.

In the center of each pasta square, place 1 Tbsp. of potato filling. Fold the pasta into a triangle, and use a fork to seal the dough. Place the sealed pierogies on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Do NOT stack pierogies on top of each other (use wax paper between each layer so they don't stick to each other).

To freeze: Flash freeze the pierogies by placing them in the freezer, on the wax-lined cookie sheets, for about 20 minutes. Once they have hardened, remove from the cookie sheets and place in Ziploc freezer bags. Return to the freezer and cook when you want them.

To cook: Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. While the water is coming to temperature, melt together the butter, olive oil and hot sauce over medium-low heat. Keep the butter warm until you're ready to fry the cooked pierogies.

Drop the pierogies (either fresh or frozen) into the boiling water a few at at time, and cook for 2-3 minutes. The pierogies will be delicate, so remove them carefully with a spider or spaghetti strainer. Place them immediately into the butter mixture. Bring the butter up to a medium-high heat and gently fry the pierogies for 3-4 minutes, until the edges are crispy.

Place the fried pierogies onto a plate and top with chopped celery. Serve immediately with blue cheese dip (optional) and enjoy!


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