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From a Polish Country House Kitchen's Pierogi with Potato, Cheese, Bacon, and Peas Filling

[Photograph: Bogdan Bialy]

From soup-filled to soup-simmered, I have never met a dumpling I did not like. So it was with great excitement that I flipped open From A Polish Country House Kitchen to find not one, not two, but three different recipes for pierogi.

Pierogi are boiled and then pan fried half-moon dumplings usually filled with some kind of meat, cheese, or potato filling. Pierogi are usually made en masse as a celebratory meal, since all of the kneading, rolling, filling, and boiling can take the better part of a day. Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden's recipe, however, is scaled back to make just enough pierogi for four people, so the challenge is a little less formidable. Their classic "Ruskie" filling of potatoes, ricotta, bacon, and peas is a humble one, but it is nonetheless delightful.

Why I picked this recipe: Just like barszcz, pierogi are a classic Polish recipe not to be missed.

What worked: The final pierogi made for a satisfying winter's meal next to a steaming bowl of barszcz, but the real winner here was the dough recipe itself. Stretchy, supple, and super easy to work with, this will be my go-to dumpling dough recipe in the future.

What didn't: The recipe doesn't state to salt water for the potatoes, or to season to the onion mixture as it sautes. For best results, season (generously) as you go. The potatoes can take it.

Suggested tweaks: Other piergoi recipes in the book include a mixture of shredded duck meat and cabbage as well as wild mushroom and sauerkraut. Both sound like excellent adaptations of the classic.

Reprinted with permission from From a Polish Country House Kitchen: 90 Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food By Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden, copyright 2012. Published by Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

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