Wild garlic is one of my favourite signifiers of spring. Prized and elusive, the glossy leaves burst forth at the start of the season in great verdant patches before disappearing for another 11 months. When they arrive, I tend to do the same things with them, year after year: cheese scones, pesto or chimichurri. This year, I craved a change.
Enter the humble pierogi – one of my favourite comfort-food dishes. If you’ve never had pierogi, think of them as ravioli by way of Poland, filled with (in this case) cheesy mashed potato in lieu of ricotta. They’re stuffed, sealed, boiled, and then fried with onions until their skins are bronzed and crisp and their insides piping hot.
They are basically a perfect food. Making them by hand is certainly a weekend project, but it’s an incredibly satisfying one (and, if you opt to freeze them, you have an emergency hangover cure on hand). I like King Arthur Flour’s classic recipe, though I’ve opted to add wild garlic to my pierogi, which are then served with caramelised onions and dollops of sour cream.
Wild garlic tends to work well alongside pale ales and IPAs – particularly those brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops, which often have a savoury, allium character. This Rye IPA, a collaboration between Left Handed Giant and Whiplash, fits the bill, and offers just enough sweetness to match the caramelised onions.
Together, the two are a perfect choice for that transitional stretch between seasons, when the weather changes moment to moment: still warming and hearty, but bright with new possibility.
Wild Garlic Pierogi with Caramelised Onions
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
For the dough:
240g all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
115g sour cream
60g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, very soft
For the filling:
115g sharp white cheddar, grated
Small handful wild garlic, chiffonaded
Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
45g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
1 large onion, finely sliced
Fine sea salt
Small handful wild garlic, finely sliced
1. First, prepare your pierogi dough. Add the flour and sea salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the egg and mix roughly, using a fork, until the dough is shaggy. Add the sour cream and butter and mix, using the fork, until the dough just comes together.
2. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface (do not use any flour on the surface or your hands, as it will make the dough tough). Knead and fold gently, using your fingertips, for approximately 5 minutes. The dough will start out very sticky – resist the urge to add more flour – but should become just springy enough to stick together in a ball and pull cleanly off the counter. Wrap in plastic clingfilm and chill for a minimum of 1-2 hours, or until firmer.
3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Peel and roughly chop the potatoes. Add to a pot, cover with cold water, and place over high heat. Bring the water to a boil and salt it well. Cook the potatoes until fork-tender, approximately 10-15 minutes.
4. Once the potatoes are tender, drain. Mash using a potato ricer or a fork. While the potatoes are still hot, add the grated cheddar and stir through until melted and evenly incorporated. Add the wild garlic and stir to combine; season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until cool.
5. To make the pierogi, remove the firmed-up dough from the fridge. Cut in half; place one half on the counter and cover and chill the other half as you work. Roll out the dough until approximately 1/8-inch (3mm) thick. If it is still sticky, use the merest sprinkle of flour on the rolling pin and counter. Using a 3-inch (7.5cm) cutter, cut the dough into circles. Re-roll any remaining dough scraps.
6. To fill the pierogi, spoon roughly 2 teaspoons of potato mixture on each dough circle, leaving a margin at the edges (be sure not to overfill, or they will burst when cooking). Fold over the other side and pinch the edges closed. Seal the edges by pressing lightly with the tines of a fork. Once the pierogi are made, repeat with the second dough half and the remaining filling.
7. If you wish to cook the pierogi at a later date, line a container with wax paper and sprinkle lightly with flour to prevent them from sticking. Store overnight in the fridge or freeze for up to a month.
8. When ready to serve, begin by caramelising the onions. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of butter and olive oil to a large frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions, and immediately turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for approximately 45 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onions have caramelised. If they are cooking too quickly, turn the heat down to low.
9. Once the onions have caramelised, transfer to a bowl and remove the frying pan from the heat (don’t clean it out). Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a gentle boil. Add roughly 10 pierogi at a time and cook until they float to the surface (cooking time will vary depending on if they are fresh or frozen).
10. Meanwhile, add the remaining butter and olive oil to the frying pan and place over medium high-heat. Once the pierogi have cooked, transfer using a slotted spoon to the frying pan. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the pierogi are crisp and golden on both sides. Return the caramelised onions to the pan, add the wild garlic, and cook until just wilted. Serve the pierogi alongside dollops of sour cream.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is out now and available in all good book stores (and at HB &B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.