You may have noticed we’ve had pierogies (hot or cold) intermittently. Liz and Gord are from Thunder Bay. There is a high population of Ukrainian and Polish people in Thunder Bay and they grew up with ready-available pierogies. My father grew up in Sydney and his family sponsored an immigrating Ukrainian family in the ‘50’s and 60’s. He had access to good Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls and Pierogies and loves them, so we had them periodically, growing up, when we could get ‘the home-made ones’.
A few years ago, one of the kids was going on a trip to Quebec, for school, and needed to do fundraising. Fortunately, his grandfather (Chef Gordie) was visiting and showed him how to make home-made pierogies. They used a hand-crank pasta roller and got a recipe from some Ukrainian contacts in Thunder Bay. It’s a very simple dough with a potatoe-cheddar mixture.
Pierogies can be made with a selection of fillings. Examples include meat, cheese, sauerkraut, fruit, and a variety of vegetables, but those might be ‘a little outside the box’ for people’s taste around here. We can’t take that risk, so we’ll stick with the ‘traditional’ potatoe-cheese ones. They are amazing compared to the ‘mass-produced’ grocery store product. We use a quality cheese and the dough is very ‘light’ or tender.
Pierogie-making is a labour of love. In communities with high populations of Ukrainian or Polish people, the elderly get together on weekends and make PILES of pierogies. Their time is ‘donated’, it’s a social activity, and often the supplies are paid-for by the church (where they are working) and the revenue goes back to the church. It’s really labour intensive. I did the business calculation on what it would cost to produce pierogies. In reality, we would make about 10 cents a dozen if we paid for labour. I looked into a ‘pierogie-making machine’ and the compromise is that is: in order to use the machine (to increase production and ‘reduce’ labour cost) the dough has to be far more tough and thick, which ruins the perogie. That’s why grocery-store pierogies are like cardboard.
Chef Gord likes making pierogies and wants to spread the love of fresh, real pierogies. For now, he’s not charging us for his time, and he sees that pierogies are ‘profitable’ when not paying for labour. We are the only commercial kitchen in Cumberland county that sells fresh pierogies. And that’s entirely thanks to Gord. I suggest you ‘get ‘em while you can’ because once the summer hits we’ll be so busy in the kitchen and enjoying our off-time that we won’t be making them. Hope you’re enjoying them.