This Ukrainian Varenyky recipe is comfort food at its best. I don't think any description I could write would compare with just listing these magical ingredients:
MORE sauteed onions
Butter, at every turn
Sour cream and dill
(*Admittedly, the optional cheddar makes this an Americanized version - but the dough and method is completely authentic!)
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Questions About Making Varynyky (Pierogi)
Is there any difference between Varenyky vs. Pierogi?
No! Both Varenyky and Pierogi are dumplings made in half moon shapes. The dough is soft, the dumpling is boiled, and the filling can be sweet or savory.
The explanation for the different names is simple: they are different languages. Varynyky comes from the Russian language. The dumplings tend to be called Varynyky in the east. Meanwhile, in the Western part of Ukraine, the dumplings are more often called “pirohy”, like those of their Polish neighbro. Ukrainians don’t have an “g” sound in their language.
I use the two words "pierogi" and "varenyky" interchangeably in this post, and I also use the spelling Lydia gave me - "varynyky". Since both words are transliterations of a Slavi language, neither spelling is more correct than the other.
Is this Varynyky recipe authentic?
These are exactly the way Lydia and her mom have made them for 50 years. So in that sense, yes. Stuffed with cheddar cheese, are these pierogi authentic to the small Western village from which Lydia's grandfather came? Probably not. You choose what to put into them.
Are Varynyky fried?
Not always. Lydia calls for frying the pierogi for extra crispiness. I loved them that way and would probably always take the time to fry the dumplings.
Does this Fried Potato Pierogi Recipe make a lot?
Yes! This makes a HUGE batch.
The first time I made this, I split it into ⅓. (The recipe calls for 3 eggs, so ⅓ seemed like the logical way to split the recipe.) That night, my family of 6 ate Varynyky as a side dish to our meal. The third of the recipe was adequate for us. Obviously, you'd want more if you're eating these as the main dish for your meal. And you would want the whole recipe if you were making these for a Ukrainian Christmas Feast!
How thick should you roll the Varenyky dough?
When I first made this recipe, I rolled the dough very thinly. In fact, the dough was almost translucent. That did work, because the eggs cause the dough to puff up a big when boiled. However, Lydia told me although my approach was "not incorrect", she usually rolls hers a little thicker. So the next time, I did it her way, and the pierogi were delicious. This is a forgiving recipe!
About Lydia, Contributor of this Varenyky Recipe
One hundred years ago, a 12 year old boy left a tiny village in Ukraine. His mother fastened a small bag of coins around his neck and buttoned his coat. Stalin's Holodomor followed. As millions starved in Ukraine, the country was isolated, cut off from communication with the outside world, particularly the West. That boy name Piotr moved to America and found difficult and deadly work in a coal mine. In the meantime, he had children and grandchildren, and his work gave them a better life; a life with choices. One of his grandchildren was Lydia, my guest on the podcast. Piotr never saw his family again.
Shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall came down, Lydia jumped at the opportunity to live and work in Ukraine, the country she had always held dear out of respect and affection for her grandfather. One weekend, she took a pilgrimage to a small village marked by wagon wheels, walked into a simple home without running water, and found her family.
She says she turned around and saw a feast on the table - the same feasts she grew up eating in her Ukrainian American home. It was this very recipe, the Varynyky, that connected Lydia to her long lost family.
Hear Lydia's Varenyky Story Now
Listen to episode 017: I Am Piotr's Granddaughter
Follow The Storied Recipe in Your Favorite Player
How To Contact Lydia