I’m not afraid to admit that there are a lot of things in the culinary world I don’t know. So rather than sit around and do nothing about it, I try and find classes that WILL teach me what I want to know.
A few years back, I attempted to make pierogies for the first time. Pierogies are Polish dumplings most commonly filled with a potato/onion/cheese mixture, cabbage, or meat. Although my potato and cheese filling was pretty darn good, the dough came out gummy, and it was basically an utter disaster. Since then, I have been trying to find a way to create the perfect pierogi dough.
So when I found a pierogi-making class at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE), I signed up right away with my cooking class partner in crime, Erica.
Details on the class:
Our class was taught by the dynamic husband and wife duo of Chefs Katie and Richard Chudy. Both are personal chefs with a catering company called The Skinny Beet. And both have their own blogs: Katie can be found at Small Boston Kitchen and Richard at the Boston Burger Blog.
We started by prepping the filling for the pierogies since the filling needs to cool prior to adding it to the rounds of dough. We made a potato, onion, and cheese filling and a red cabbage filling. I’ve eaten a lot of pierogies in my time, but I had never had a cabbage filling before, and the acidity of cabbage mixed with apple cider vinegar was perfect.
Once the filling was done and cooling, we got to work on the dough. After listening to Katie and Richard explain that the secret behind really good pierogies was tender loving care and some patience, I knew exactly why my first attempt was an epic failure. You can make the dough using a stand mixer, but it just won’t be the same as kneading it by hand. I know my Babci (Polish grandmother) used her hands, and her Babci before her, and so on. So if I wanted to make the real thing, I needed to use my hands, too.
Once the dough was ready and the filling had cooled, we each rolled out the dough, cut out rounds, and filled each pierogi with the filling. The pierogies were then plopped into a pot of boiling water. Half of the piergoies were served just boiled, while the other half was fried in butter in a skillet to create some caramelization on the outside. My personal preference: Do you even need to ask? Throw them in the skillet with butter!
My thoughts on this class:
This was my first class at BCAE. The kitchen facilities are great, and I like the intimate atmosphere of the smaller space (my previous classes at another school were held in a huge high school kitchen classroom that was probably used for a home-ec class). There were about 12 people in this class, and we were all given tasks to help prepare our meal. Some of us cut vegetables, others measured out dough ingredients, and everyone took a turn creating the dough. I love interactive classes because the best way to learn something is to do it for yourself.
Katie and Richard were a plethora of knowledge. They live in the Boston area, so they are very familiar with the Boston food scene and had suggestions on everything from the best place to find a burger, to the best Mexican spot around the city. They were laid back, fun, and incredibly knowledgeable. I especially appreciated that they have a Polish heritage, so their recipes and methods came from a very authentic place.
I enjoyed the class so much, I have since signed up for three more classes. Stay tuned for reviews on how they go!