For Christmas my brother and sister in law gave me a few packages of dried mushrooms and a mushroom knife. Since it was too late in the season to go mushrooming I put the dried mushrooms to good use and used them to make mushroom pierogi.
Dried mushrooms, in particular the porcini that I was gifted, contain a remarkable amount of concentrated flavor and colour. You don’t need a whole lot to make a difference, which is good since they can be pricy. I added a couple of leeks that had been sitting in the fridge and added additional mushroom flavors with a few drops of truffle oil (best used sparingly) and truffle salt. Feel free to omit the truffle oil and salt if you do not have any. This filling is very flexible and the seasonings can be adjusted to what you have on hand or can find in the market. Here are some tips and tricks and my pierogi filling recipe! It’s fun to sit around the table with a bunch of people chatting and stuffing pierogi, especially when its cold outside.
Cheap and cheerful button mushrooms were the bulk of my filling, but could have been substituted by crimini, oyster, portabello, or any mix of wild or cultivated mushrooms, fresh or dried. When using dried mushrooms it is important to rinse them quickly under the tap to remove any dust and grit. If your fresh mushrooms have any dirt on them, use a damp paper towel or dry brush to clean them. I find that washing them under running water just makes them soggy. If your mushrooms are really dirty you can use a small knife to peel off the skin. When preparing the leeks I split them open lengthwise and thoroughly wash each layer whether it looks clean or not. Dirt and grit are often between the layers of a leek and can spoil all your hard work.
Mushroom and Leek Pierogi Filling*
For 60 – 70 3 inch pierogi
40g dried porcini
2 medium leeks, white and light green part
½ small onion
2 tbsp butter
3 bay leaves
1 to 2 tsp dried thyme (to your taste)
½ cup cottage cheese (optional)
1 tsp truffle oil (optional)
salt and pepper
Quickly rinse the porcini mushrooms then soak in hot water (enough to cover them) for 20 minutes. Strain reserving the liquid for later. Pass the liquid through a layer of paper towels to remove any grit. Rinse the soaked porcini again under running water. Clean and roughly chop the leeks.
Use a food processor to finely chop the mushrooms, porcini, leeks, and onion, pulsing to get consistent pieces. Or conversely, use a knife and finely chop your vegetables. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute the vegetables with the bay leaves, thyme, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid evaporates. Add the porcini soaking liquid to the mushrooms and cook again, stirring occasionally, until dry. A dry filling ensures a concentrated flavor, a wet filling may make your pierogi soggy. Cool the mixture and add the egg, cottage cheese, and truffle oil if using. Adjust the seasoning. The filling can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated in a covered container. This quantity will fill 60 – 70 3 inch pierogi. Use with your favorite dough recipe.
Cook in boiling water until they float to the surface. Remove using a strainer and place on a buttered tray. Serve with sauted onions, bacon, and sour cream. And black pepper!