Baking Central: Blueberries find a place in pierogi

  • Article by: KIM ODE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 23, 2014 - 3:08 PM

Looking for something new to do with blueberries? Consider a bumpy dumpling from Poland offering the purest of berry flavor.

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When grocery shelves persistently offer cartons of blueberries for sale — from somewhere — a local blueberry season can seem almost quaint.

But blueberry lovers know that homegrown harvest is not to be squandered, delivering days of fresh blueberry pies, cobblers, muffins, pancakes, tarts, grunts, tea breads and more familiar favorites.

But blueberry pierogi? That’s a new one. Or so we thought.

Turns out that pierogi — dumplings more associated with a filling of mashed potatoes, onions and cheese — also have enveloped more than a few blueberries over the centuries. In Poland, blueberry pierogi are a familiar treat, with several options.

The pierogi may be eaten warm after being poached in simmering water, or cold, when they become an easy handheld treat, or poached and then gently sautéed in butter until the little shoulders of blueberries bulging from under the dough become golden-brown and the dumpling takes on a subtle chewiness. Guess which version is our favorite?

A highly recommended accompaniment is a dollop of spiced sour cream, slightly sweetened and bolstered with nutmeg, or cinnamon, even cardamom.

Some Polish households further embellish this dessert with a smattering of toasted bread crumbs, which lend crunch to each bite.

Blueberry pierogi are all about blueberries. The filling for this rustic dessert is nothing but berries, fresh off the bush, dusted with powdered sugar and a bit of lemon zest. They’re left whole, which gives the pierogi a peculiarly knobby appearance. Puff pastry fans may avert their eyes.

Now, given that each round of pierogi dough is about 4 inches across, or the diameter of your largest drinking glass (a pint glass for beer is perfect), there’s a limit to how many blueberries each dumpling can hold.

Which brings us to the importance of the blueberry harvest, because U-pick fields and farmers markets offer a variety of varieties, which means you may snag some of the smaller, intensely flavored berries. If you’re fortunate to pick blueberries in the wild, even better. Larger berries are fine, but just present more of a challenge when enclosing them in the dough.

While there’s no denying a certain pokiness about the process, stuffing them actually is quite simple. Roll the dough thin and cut into rounds. Then, cupping one round in the palm of your hand, fill the cavity with blueberries, bring up the edges and pinch closed.

For the best-looking pierogi, try to keep the filling as flat as possible. Those who find a bumpy dumpling utterly charming can fill with a more carefree attitude. The resulting dessert makes a sturdy take-along for picnics, eaten out of hand. Leftovers may be reheated for a fruity breakfast.

In either case, consider blueberry pierogi a worthy addition to the summer blueberry rotation.

 

Kim Ode • 612-673-7185

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