Cleveland cuisine? Really?
Cleveland is an important place.
For one thing, it's the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
And that should be enough.
But there's also The Cleveland Museum of Art -- it has a large, diverse collection. And unlike so many museums of its kind, admission is FREE!!!!
Also -- Cleveland has a world-famous orchestra, a distinguished university (Case Western Reserve), an AFC football team (the Browns) and a major league baseball team (the Indians).
AND, of course, their basketball team is this year's NBA Champions! (You've surely heard of the Cavaliers!)
And now there's more. This summer Cleveland will be home to the 2016 Republican National Convention (July 18-21).
And, whatever the goings on at the convention itself, the city will get lots of extra attention in the press. There will be loads and loads of extra people in Cleveland.
So, me being me, I got to wondering about what those people might be eating during their stay.
I don't mean the food they're going to get at the convention. I mean real, special, famous Cleveland food.
Not every city has its own culinary specialties. Surely nothing in Stamford, CT., where I live.
But Cleveland does! And some real goodies, at that!
For example, because the city is home to large numbers of families whose origins trace back to central and eastern Europe, bratwurst (on a bun) and crunchy apple fritters are really popular.
The apple fritters alone are worth a visit I think.
But also this -- among the most famous of "Cleveland food" is something called the Polish Boy (basically a kielbasa sandwich with coleslaw, french fries and barbecue sauce all on a club roll).
Well, okay. Maybe.
Then I discovered that among the iconic Cleveland dishes are pierogi.
Pierogi. Do you hear my heart pounding? Can you see my grin?
Oh! How I love pierogi! Doughy dumplings stuffed with stuff. Like beef cheeks or potato and cheese (served with thick, tangy sour cream).
Pierogi. The kind of food some of us used to get at grandma's, if we were lucky.
I haven't had a pierogi for as long as I can remember. Thanks to Cleveland I was reminded of that fact.
I had to have some. But the only ones I could find in Stamford, CT. were packaged.
So I decided to make some myself. And after a couple of tries -- oh!
They are as wonderful as I remember.
Thank you, Cleveland, for inspiring this recipe. Good luck this summer.
Potato Cheese Pierogi
- 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about one pound), peeled, cut into chunks (about 3 cups mashed potatoes)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 cup farmer cheese
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the potato chunks in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and spoon into a bowl. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 minutes or until soft and golden brown. Add the onions to the potatoes. Add the farmer cheese, sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix the ingredients until well blended. Set aside to cool before filling the dough.
- 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter, cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup water, approximately
- 1 cup dairy sour cream
- vegetable oil
- sour cream
To make the dough: place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and work it into the dough until the mixture is crumbly. Add 1/2 cup of the water and the sour cream and mix the dough until it is smooth, soft and well blended. If the dough seems too dry, add more water. (You can do this in a food processor.) Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes. Using portions of the dough, roll the dough on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thick and cut out circles with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Place the circles on a board or cookie sheet and cover them with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel while you cut the rest of the dough. Fill the dough using about one tablespoon of the filling for each circle.
To fill the pierogis: place the filling in the center of the dough circle. Fold the circle in half, pinching the edges to seal in the filling.
To cook the pierogis: bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the filled pierogis, 6-8 at a time, and boil for about 3-8 minutes depending on whether they are at room temperature, refrigerated or frozen (or until they float to the surface). Remove the pierogis with a slotted spoon and set aside; repeat with remaining pierogis.
Extras: To serve the pierogis: serve boiled (as above), with sour cream (can also serve with caramelized onions – make more when making filling above). OR, heat 1 tablespoon butter plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add some of the pierogi (do not crowd the pan) and cook for 3-4 minutes on the flat side, or until golden brown on the bottom, then turn the pierogis over and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until crusty and golden brown. Repeat using more butter/vegetable oil with the remaining pierogis. Serve with sour cream (and sautéed onion if desired).
Makes about 4 dozen