With a title like that, we bet that a number of people are making yucky faces and saying “Sauerkraut and Mushroom. Ewww! Yuck!”, while others are looking at the title and saying quizzically, “Sauerkraut and Mushroom, really? Hmmm. That might be interesting.” Well, we tried them, so we know what we think, but you’ll have to continue reading to find out.
Several months ago we tried making up Potato, Cheese, and Pea Pierogies for dinner one night and just loved them, although the recipe made more than we should have eaten in one meal. Since that time, in the back of our minds, we’ve been wanting to try another pierogi filling recipe. This one, like the Potato, Cheese, and Pea filling came from Anne Applebaum and Diane Crittenden’s book, From a Polish Country House Kitchen. The only thing we really changed was to use ordinary white button mushrooms in place of wild mushrooms. Feel free to substitute other mushrooms for the buttons.
Makes filling for over 32 pierogi.
As alluded to above, feel free to change the type of fresh mushrooms you use. We didn’t have too much choice at the store; perhaps next time we’ll make a trip out to the Asian market where they have at least a dozen types of mushrooms, all fresh and ready to use. Sauerkraut: we can only suggest that you avoid the canned variety. One of use remembers eating canned sauerkraut as a child and it wasn’t that good. The kraut in jars or in bags seems to be less krauty. Of course, you could make it yourself (which we would do, if we ate sauerkraut regularly); apparently, it’s nothing more than shred cabbage, mix with an appropriate amount of salt, and allow it to ferment submerged in a crock.
Procedure in detail:
Making the filling is really easy; the more difficult part of shaping and cooking pierogies is found in the post on Basic Pierogi Dough. But, even that isn’t really hard. Basically, cut 3-inch circles of dough, place a tablespoon of filling in the center, fold, and crimp edges closed. To cook, drop in boiling water, boil for 5 minutes after they float, then remove with a slotted spoon and fry in butter.
Drain sauerkraut. Some sauerkraut is more liquid-y than others, and, if you cook down all the sauerkraut liquid, we think these pierogi would end up being a bit too krauty. So, dump your kraut into a colander and let it drain while you go about doing everything else.
Rehydrate mushrooms. Cover the mushrooms with a cup of boiling water, and let them steep for about an hour or until they become soft. Then drain, reserving a cup of the liquid, rinse the mushrooms to remove any grit, and, finally, coarsely chop. We knew that the rehydrated mushrooms are added at the same time as the sauerkraut, so we just put the mushroom pieces right in the colander, too.
Sauté mushrooms. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the fresh mushrooms. Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms cook through and are a nice golden brown.
Add sauerkraut, mushrooms, and liquid. Increase the heat to high and add the sauerkraut, the rehydrated mushrooms, and the reserved liquid. Bring to a boil.
Simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the sauerkraut is tender. You should stir it from time to time to make sure that it isn’t sticking or burning. Burnt sauerkraut isn’t that tasty.
Reduce liquid. If there’s any liquid left in the pan, increase the heat and boil it off, stirring continuously. When boiled off, remove from heat.
Season. Taste and add salt and pepper. Yes, it does taste like sauerkraut right now, and, if you don’t like sauerkraut, you’re doubting that pierogies made with this filling will be any good. Persevere, and try it; it’s only one meal. Now, stir in the butter.
Finely chop. Right now, the filling is stringy and has big pieces of mushrooms which would make it difficult to fill the pierogi. So, transfer everything to a food processor, and pulse a few times.
Fill and cook pierogi. Serve with sour cream.
It took us a long time to make these. Partly, we kept forgetting to get sauerkraut at the store, and partly we thought that it was an odd combination of flavors. Eventually, we went for it, just to have something different, with the idea of how bad can it be and it’s only one meal. It turns out that this filling is good. Very good. With just a slight sauerkraut flavor, in fact, it’s so slight, that we think if we didn’t know in advance the sauerkraut was in here, we never would have guessed. So think about making these and quizzing everyone while they eat: “So, what do you think is in the pierogies? Nope! Ha ha!” It’ll be a barrel of fun.
Quizzing or no quizzing, we’ll give these four stars, partly because pierogies are enough trouble that you won’t be making these up just any old day of the week.