Ryan Thomas is a university graduate who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
The pierogi is one of Poland's most famous dishes. It is a charmingly simple item: a dumpling stuffed with a dazzling variety of options ranging from cheese and potatoes, to beef and onions, to fruit, and much more.
Despite or perhaps because of its simplicity, the pierogi is wonderfully delicious and comforting. It has a crispy and rich exterior, but it is soft and chewy on the inside, bursting with the flavor of the filling. Eating this dish is a great joy on a cold winter night.
It made me think of another recipe of mine: a Lebanese-inspired meatloaf. This doesn't sound like it would have a similar potential for being a wonderful winter weather dish—it's from Lebanon, after all, which is not really known for its cold winters. But the meatloaf recipe is also a remarkably comforting and tasty winter dish. What makes it special is the combination of cinnamon and mint, which marry perfectly with the beef, producing a very nice and aromatic result.
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Here is my fusion of Polish pierogis with Lebanese flavors. Enjoy!
For the dough:
- 3 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1cup milk
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 onion, peeled and minced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pepper, to taste
- olive oil, for frying
For cooking and garnishes:
- butter, for frying
- bacon, optional for garnish
- sauteed onion, optional for garnish
- sour cream, optional for garnish
- Make the dough: Combine the milk and eggs in a separate cup and then in a large bowl work it into the flour and salt which is arranged into a well. Work it with a fork until it is combined, then knead for several minutes. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Make the filling: In a large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat until it begins to sizzle, then add in the one onion, peeled and minced. Then add in the garlic cloves, also peeled and minced, and then the ground beef. Sautee until it is browned, and then add in the salt, cumin, mint, and cinnamon. You will use the skillet later so it is not necessary to clean it too much.
- Roll out the dough on a countertop with flour until it is very thin. Using a 3- to 4-inch circular object cut out circles to make the pierogis. Spoon a large tablespoon of filling into each, and then close them: think of it as pulling the dough over the filling without allowing the filling to get in between the dough layers, since if this is done it will cause the dough to not form a clean seal.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and then put in the pierogis. Cook them until they rise to the surface.
- Heat butter until it is hot in the previously used skillet, and fry the pierogis for several minutes until they are brown and crispy. Serve hot, with garnishes like sour cream, mayonnaise, bacon, and sauteed onions.