While anytime is a good time to think of serving pierogi in the Region, mid-summer is the perfect season for the Polish dumpling.
At the end of July, the city of Whiting lays out the red carpet in honor of the popular food. This year, the renowned Pierogi Fest, running this Friday through Sunday, is the prime spot to sample a variety of pierogi flavors in addition to other ethnic specialties.
Vendors at the festival showcase a variety of styles and flavors of pierogi. They include everything from traditional fillings from cheese, potato and sauerkraut to the more unusual alligator. Pierogi also can be cooked in assorted ways from boiling and sauteeing to baking and frying.
This year's festival will feature a number of pierogi vendors who'll cook up the Eastern European goodie in every way possible. Among vendors at the fest will be Babuska's Polish Foods, Big Frank's Sausage, Dan's Pierogies, Gosia's Pierogies, Kasia's Deli Inc., Lynethe's Pierogi, MJ Polish Deli, Tata's Pierogi and others.
"I think pierogi is like a novelty now. Everyone is fascinated by pierogi. People love it," said Angie Golom, owner of Warsaw Inn in Lynwood. At her Polish-style buffet, Golom has been serving pierogi for the past 27 years.
She added more people are familiar with the food now and understand what it is. At Warsaw Inn, Golom serves assorted flavors of pierogi, including sweet cheese, potato and meat as well as special seasonal varieties.
"Right now we have blueberry," she said, adding the popular fruit filling will be available for the duration of blueberry season. Pierogi is made from scratch at Warsaw Inn and has been produced there since the opening of the restaurant.
"It's fresh and made by hand," she said, adding cooks make the dough, roll it out, fill it and pinch the sides.
While Golom doesn't sell pierogi at the beloved Whiting festival, she said she has attended the event in the past. She's also met many customers at her eatery who come to eat at Warsaw Inn after they've enjoyed the ethnic food at Pierogi Fest.
Food experts say pierogi is a versatile food. It can transform and be included in other recipes such as casseroles, salads, meat and vegetarian entrees and more.
Home cooks can get creative with the dumpling. Food manufacturer Mrs. T's Pierogies not only offers the food for sale in the frozen food case at nationwide grocery stores but also operates a website filled with recipes and information about the specialty.
If you're longing to try a couple of creative recipes for pierogi at home, try these from Mrs. T's Pierogies.
1 (16-ounce) box Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil Pierogies or your favorite variety of Mrs. T’s® Pierogies
1/4 cup basting oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS: Preheat grill to 400 degrees. Toss pierogies with basting oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Grill pierogies for 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until pierogies are cooked. Optional: Add favorite herbs or seasonings to oil/butter to coat the pierogies after grilling.
Grilled Mini Pierogy Kabobs
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small clove garlic
1 1/2-inch piece ginger root, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 (12.84-ounce) box Mini Classic Cheddar, thawed or your favorite variety of Mrs. T's® Pierogies
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound beef sirloin or tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 green peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 red peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 yellow peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
Grilling non-stick spray
Place all ingredients for peanut sauce in blender or food processor; blend or process until smooth and well-combined. Place sauce in serving bowl.
Line grill grates with tin foil sprayed with grill non-stick spray.
Preheat grill; set grill temperature to medium-low. Combine olive oil and chili powder in small bowl. Brush pierogies with chili mixture. Toss chicken chunks and beef chunks separately with salt and pepper to taste.
On eight 12-inch long metal skewers, alternately thread pierogies, chicken pieces, beef pieces, and peppers. Arrange skewers on grill rack.
Grill skewers for 18 to 20 minutes, turning skewers occasionally, until pierogies, chicken, beef, and peppers are cooked through. Serve with peanut sauce.
Garden Fresh Pierogi Primavera
1 (16-ounce) box Feta & Spinach or your favorite variety of Mrs. T's® Pierogies
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 green onions, diagonally sliced (1/3 cup)
2 small carrots, thinly sliced (1/3 cup)
1/2 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and diagonally sliced into 2-inch pieces
1/4 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 (10-ounce) container cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add pierogies and cook 8 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally. Remove from skillet.
In same skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and green onions and cook 2 minutes or until garlic is lightly browned. Add carrots, asparagus and sugar snap peas and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender.
Add chicken broth, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and pierogies. Continue cooking 3 to 4 minutes or until pierogies are heated through and cherry tomatoes soften. Season with salt and pepper to taste.