Weeknight pierogies are possible with these shortcuts

Polish potato-filled pierogies make excellent comfort food, no matter the time of year, but to prepare them from scratch is an undertaking best suited for a long weekend. In order to make these dumplings in 30 minutes, you will need to take more than one shortcut — involving both the filling and the dough.

First, the filling: Since chopping, boiling and mashing potatoes can take 30 minutes on its own, you’ll need to employ instant mashed potatoes here. As long as you choose the unflavored variety, you’re not using much more than potatoes themselves, and their thick, pasty texture actually works to your advantage in this dish. No need to follow the directions on the box, either. Equal parts cold or room temperature water and dehydrated potatoes, plus a big handful of cheddar cheese, is all you’ll need.

Next, the dough: You've got a few options here. Any 3- to 4-inch round ready-to-cook dough will work; wonton wrappers are a good option, but frozen (and thawed) empanada wrappers, which I've found at Kroger, are even better. Whatever you choose, know that it won't be exactly a pierogi dough, but once you've coated the dumplings in melted butter, you'll be hard-pressed to find a problem with it.

The most work-intensive part of the dish is actually in filling the dumplings, so do this while your boiling water is heating to save time. Make sure to get a good seal using a fork (and with wontons, you may need to seal the edges with a bit of water as well). When you’re ready to cook, melt half a stick of butter in a large skillet and stir in plain, drained sauerkraut. Keep this mixture at the ready for the boiled pierogies.

The dumplings themselves need only a few minutes in hot water to cook through; you’ll know they’re done when they float. Use a slotted spoon to move them over to the hot butter, toss them to coat, and you’re ready to eat.

Shortcut Pierogies

Shortcut Pierogies
  • 1 cup unflavored instant mashed potatoes, such as Idahoan Original
  • 1 cup water, plus more for boiling the pierogies
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt
  • 12 to 15 empanada or wonton wrappers, 3 to 4 inches in diameter, thawed if frozen
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plain sauerkraut, drained
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, combine the instant potatoes, 1 cup water, and cheese in a medium bowl. Stir well to combine, then season to taste with salt.
  • Place 1 heaping tablespoon of mashed potato mixture in the center of each wrapper. Fold the wrappers over to form a half moon, then use a fork to seal and crimp the edges closed.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter is foamy, add the sauerkraut, stir to combine, then reduce the heat to very low to keep warm.
  • When the water is boiling, add all of the pierogies at once. While stirring occasionally, let the water return to a boil. At this point, the pierogies should be floating. Remove the pot from the heat then use a slotted spoon to transfer the pierogies to the hot skillet with the butter. Toss to evenly coat in the butter and sauerkraut, then remove the skillet from the heat, and serve. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: (using 13 empanada wrappers for recipe) 285 calories (percent of calories from fat, 52), 7 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (no saturated fat), 47 milligrams cholesterol, 389 milligrams sodium.

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