What’s Varenyky? Learning to Cook the Ukrainian Pierogi

Last week at Manor College, we celebrated our fifteenth annual “Founders’ Day,” a series of week-long events that students, professors, faculty and alumni participate in. This was the first year where Founders’ Day was celebrated over the course of one week. The week consisted of community service, food creation, social media events, awards, and celebration. One particular event was a food making event where we created “Ukrainian Varenyky.” This is like a pierogi.

I was very happy to participate in making a handful of these delicious pierogi. Making it was not as difficult as I thought it would be. In creating this dish, very few ingredients were needed to make the shell. Only flour, salt, oil, and water were required. I started by combining flour and salt and putting it into a bowl. I added oil and water and stirred it to mix it up. Then I did the part I thought was the most fun. I put the dough on a mat for five minutes and rolled the dough with my bare hands until it got smooth and soft. I enjoyed this because it allowed me to get all my strength in the dough and improve my coordination skills. I always enjoy opportunities for doing that.

After that, I took a brief ten minute break in order to let the dough rest on the mat. Then I rolled out half of the dough with a roller until it was ⅛ inches thick. After rolling, I used a tool to make small circles out of the dough. I was able to make nine small circles out of it. Then it was time to fill up the circles with the fillings. I had a couple of different options to fill them with. The ingredients were mashed potatoes, shredded cheese, and sauerkraut. You could also put sour cream and fried onions on top of them.

Personally, I thought filling and rolling the varenyky was the most difficult part for me. I needed to put a spoonful of filling into the circle. It turned out on a majority of them I ended up putting too much mashed potatoes and cheese in them. Pretty much if anything stuck out while it was baking it would pop open. This was soon corrected with help. I needed to fold the circle in half and keep giving them small pinches. I wrapped the process up by taking my nine pirogies to the kitchen and boiled them for five minutes. In the end, they looked a bit soggy, but I still think I did a good job. I realize that if I keep making these I can do a whole lot better.

It turned out that there were trays and trays full of Ukrainian varenyky. I thought they tasted really good. It was an awesome idea to learn how to create this food. Something cool about the varenyky is that you can put any food you want inside. It can be beef, chicken, or even a something dessert-like, such as fruit.  I really enjoy learning how to cook things even though I have not done it so much. I hope it is something that I will keep on improving as time goes on.

Will Rodebaugh is an intern in the Manor College marketing department.

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