Coast Cooking

This family’s holiday tradition is based on a tasty Polish dish of pierogies

Pierogis are often served with sour cream.
Pierogis are often served with sour cream. Julian Brunt

Everyone seems to enjoy the holidays. Maybe it is because most of the holidays seem to be centered around the dining room table.

Most families look forward to gathering around tables loaded with turkeys, hams, vegetables and side dishes, but some families do something different to celebrate the holidays.

Stacey Janik-Maxted of Ocean Springs and her daughters, Paige and Anna Janik, get together and make pierogies, which are Polish dumplings, something Stacy’s father, the late Lou Janik, taught her to make.

Lou Janik was from Detroit, but his family roots were in Poland, so it was a tradition that reminded the family of the old country and the family adopted the tradition for the holidays.

“All of my family were foodies,” Stacey Janik-Maxted said, “and when we got together it was to make cookies and stuffed cabbages.”

All the food the family made was not of Polish origin, however. They also enjoyed a wide variety of foods that included favorites from Asia, Mexico and Italy.

To this day the family enjoys getting together in the kitchen and cooking pierogies, which the entire family will enjoy over the holidays.

Pierogies can be served as part of any holiday meal, or just by themselves on a plate topped with sour cream, if you like.

They also freeze well, so make a big batch, and you’ll have a wonderful treat for your family from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Basic Pierogi Dough Recipe (Can also be used in Chicken and Dumplings)

5 cups flour

3 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

4 whole eggs

Combine the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients. Traditional the dough was mixed by hand, but a mixer can be used with good results. Roll out 1/8 of an inch thick, cut into 4-inch circles. Fill with a small amount of the filling you choose (from the recipes below), fold over, then turn the edge up on itself, and seal with a fork. Boil in salted water until they float to the top, approximately 2 minutes.

Note: All fillings should be made day before assembling pierogies

Potato Filling Stuffing

6-7 medium size Russet potatoes-peeled

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese-grated

½ pound bacon-diced

1 chopped onion

Salt to taste

Boil the potatoes until tender, then mash, add the cheese. Cook bacon until crisp, remove and drain chop, add the onion and cook until well-browned. Combine all the ingredients.

Mushroom Filling Stuffing

1 package portabella mushroom, chopped

Olive oil

½ cup butter

2 garlic cloves

Combine ingredients and sauté until the mushroom has given off its liquid. Allow to cool before stuffing dumplings.

Sweet Potato Filling Stuffing

3 large sweet potatoes-peeled

1 chopped onion

½ pound cup Conecuh sausage, chopped

Boil the sweet potatoes in water until tender, then mash. Sauté the sausage and onion until the sausage and onion are browned. Combine and allow to cool before stuffing.

Loaded Kraut Filling

2 15-ounce jars of kraut

1-pound diced and fried bacon

1 onion diced

1 pound diced kielbasa

1 small can mushrooms diced

2 bay leaves

Pre-cook chopped bacon, kielbasa and onion then drain. Drain and rinse one jar of sour kraut before adding to large pot. Add other jar of kraut, all cooked meats, bay leaves and onion and stir to combine. Cook for several hours stirring on occasion until kraut is caramelized. Allow to cool overnight before filling dumplings.