sunshine squash, potato and mushroom pierogi

So here’s the funny thing about my current temp job as a Potato Inspector: I pretty much hate potatoes. I find them boring, starchy and unnecessary. A potato-less existence would be a better existence, in my mind.

But we eat a lot of potatoes, partly because they’re cheap (read: free right now), partly because my boyfriend adores them, and partly because everyone needs a good dose of boring, starchy and unnecessary in their lives from time to time.

Here in Aroostook County at this time of year, you see people in the countryside scouring recently-harvested fields to fill sacks with forgotten potatoes to take home. If picking your own isn’t your thing, you can easily find 50-lb sacks for under $10. Essentially, potato deals abound here. So as an autumnal chill sets in around us, potatoes for many meals it is. Potatoes for breakfast, potatoes for dinner. Leftover potatoes for lunch.

With all these potatoes clogging up the airwaves, it helps to have a recipe that turns mediocre potatoes into a masterful, delicious dish. I find that pierogi, or Polish potato dumplings, always do the trick.

All you need for them is a bit of time – perfect for a slow and rainy weekend afternoon.

In addition to my dislike of potatoes, I as a rule tend to mistrust squash. It’s just so… squashy. But the above beauty, a Sunshine squash, turns out to be rather amazing when cooked. Sweet and nutty without being overbearing in any way, this squash lent lightness and flavor to my pierogi filling.

These pierogi are made from a stretchy dough that is easily kneaded and quite forgiving. Unlike some dough, it can be rolled out and re-rolled almost indefinitely, while still maintaining its flexibility and strength. The filling is comprised of riced potatoes, Sunshine squash pureed with sour cream, and mushrooms cooked in fresh thyme. It is a creamy filling that can substitute as a flavorful mashed side dish – indeed, use up any leftovers this way.

 

There are a lot of funny potatoes out there, y’all. During my time as a Potato Inspector, I’ve been giving unto the world a potato of the day. Check it out.

Sunshine Squash, Potato, and Mushroom Pierogi

Makes ~80 2.5-inch pierogi

{Dough recipe from Martha Stewart – it really can’t be improved upon. Filling recipe by myself.}

For the dough:

1 large egg
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup water
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
Yellow cornmeal, for dusting

Whisk together egg and sour cream. Whisk in milk and water. Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Knead, dusting with flour as needed, until elastic and no longer sticky, 8 to 10 minutes. Don’t add too much flour, since it will toughen the dough. Dust with flour, cover with an inverted bowl, and let rest for 1 hour. Make the filling (see below).

For the filling:

Scant 3 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered (~5 large potatoes)
1/2 Sunshine (or other Kabocha) squash, washed
Oil
Salt
Pepper
3 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp butter
6-12 oz mushrooms, depending on how much mushroomy presence you enjoy
Fresh or dried thyme

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large salted pot of water, bring potatoes to the boil. Cook until tender when tested with a fork. Remove from heat and drain, then pass through a ricer (or blend in a food processor). Set aside to cool.

Remove seeds from Sunshine squash, then cut into 1 1/2-inch strips. Place in a baking dish, sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes until tender, flipping once. Remove from oven, and blend with sour cream in a food processor – leave the skin on, it will incorporate flavor nicely.

Heat butter in a pan over low medium heat. Dice mushrooms, and add to pan when hot. Add in two sprigs of fresh thyme, leaflets only. Cook five to ten minutes, until mushrooms have exuded juice.

In a large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, squash, and mushrooms + juice. Season with salt, pepper, and additional thyme as desired – it will take a hefty amount of salt to flavor all those boring, starchy potatoes.

Make the pierogi:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Generously dust a baking sheet with cornmeal. Roll out 1 piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 1/8-inch-thick round (keep other pieces covered). Cut out circles of dough. I used a 2.5-inch biscuit cutter, but use whatever size you’d like.

Place filling in center of each dough circle. Transfer to cornmeal-dusted sheet pan. Repeat with remaining dough circles and filling, re-rolling dough as needed. Repeat entire process three more times with remaining dough. Working in batches, transfer pierogi to boiling water. They will sink to the bottom and then rise. Once they have risen, cook through, about 2 minutes more. Transfer pierogi to cooling rack using a slotted spoon – they need some space to dry out a bit, or they will be sticky.

Heat 4-6 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan over low medium heat. Pan fry pierogi, flipping once, until lightly browned on each side. Serve with a drizzle of the browned butter from the pan.

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26 thoughts on “sunshine squash, potato and mushroom pierogi

  1. Potato lover here. I cannot wait to make these. I’m craving comforting fall foods so badly, and I’ve never made pierogi so it sounds like a fun new challenge.

    1. Hey there potato lover! Pierogi are the ultimate in comfort food, indulgence in butter, and way to enjoy potatoes. They’re also fun to make with someone – cause it can get a bit long if you’re making them alone.

    1. A very rotund squash – I think that’s one of its prime traits, actually.

      I know I know…. most people love potatoes. Hence the recipe!

  2. Clearly you and I have a mind meld, Emma, as I too have had fall-style pierogis on the brain. Of course no one will ever believe me since you got there first, but I suppose I will just have to bear that cross as not making pierogis is simply not an option.

    On a lighter note, I look forward to stealing your recipe for the pierogi itself. Hooray for someone else doing half my research for me! :D

    Also, I came up with a name for your crime TV series/movie deal: “Emma PI”, tagline “She DIGS to the ROOT of the crime.”

    1. I will believe you! In the words of one of my favorite stadium rock anthems, “Don’t stop….. belieeeeeeeeeeeven!”

      Make those pierogi! I think my favorite recipe is using mostly mushrooms for the filling, with a little bit of potato to bind them. But that’s been done before, hence the change-up in the recipe here. I also love these made with sweet potatoes. Hell yes.

      Hehehe, how did you know that I LOVE MAGNUM PI?! And your tagline is just starchy enough to attract the masses to this new show. What if creating a tv show was my New Venture?

  3. You can’t ignore the most obvious of uses for riced potatoes…they simply scream “LEFSE”!(a potato-less existence is not an option here…)
    ;-)
    These sound wonderful. I am going to make them.

    1. Doooo it, you love squash and potatoes!

      And yes, yes, I know I know, I love I love THE LEFSE! I was too lazy to find the link to my post on lefse, so I decided to forgo mentioning it. But you better believe it that lefse has been on my mind lately. It has. I’m curious if that store in Caribou has griddles!

  4. That’s a lot of taters. My husband LOVES peirogi, but we’ve only had the frozen kind. I’m pretty sure those pale in comparison to these.

    1. Hey, the frozen kind aren’t so horrible…. but they’re just bad enough that I feel a bit uncomfortable drenching them in butter, like I do with these:)

    1. Thank you K:) I was driving past that last week, and had to pull over immediately to try and capture that beautiful scenery! The foliage is so lovely this year.

    1. I’ll be your squashy AND your huckleberry! Although, I have a feeling I’m not who you had in mind for this position;)

  5. Potatoes! I couldn’t eat them for about 2 years after I lived in Bolivia because I overdosed a bit while I was there. These look so yummy, wondering if I could pull it off in my communal residence hall kitchen :)

    1. Oof, a potato overdose sounds like just about the worst kind of overdose. Except for maybe a whipped cream overdose.

      A communal kitchen! Does the school you’re studying at require that you live in one of their buildings too? I was interested in doing grad school in the UK, until I saw how much emphasis was placed on communal living. So shy:/

  6. I have long said that if I were to be stranded on a deserted island – and could only bring one food – it would be potatoes. I love them as much as any person can love another thing.

    I hope we can move forward from here.

    1. Potatoes are like the anti deserted island food. Maybe pineapple or coconut? Something tropical and lovely? Something….. yummy?

      Yeah. Let’s move on.

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