Fresh from a pierogi class at Loretta Paganini (which I might blog about later), I decided to finally try to make Michael Symon’s Beef Cheek Pierogies from Live to Cook.

The first issue is obtaining the beef cheeks. I called Millgate Farm last week and made sure they’d have some for me at the market at Shaker Square on Saturday.

Symon and Ruhlman sum up this recipe well the statement that it looks “daunting, and there are a few steps, but none of them is particularly difficult.” No step is difficult, but added up they are very time consuming. That said, if you have some time to invest, this makes the most flavorful pierogies you’ll ever eat. And it makes enough of them for a large gathering (8−10 people) or many meals for smaller groups.

Beef Cheek Pierogies with Wild Mushrooms and Horseradish
(adapted from Live to Cook)

Makes about 40 pierogies.

Pierogi Dough
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 TB. finely chopped fresh chives (optional)
1 t. kosher salt
2 cups AP flour

Beef Cheeks
2 Tb. Olive Oil
1.5 lbs beef cheeks
salt and pepper
AP flour
1 red onion
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)

lots of butter for frying
seared wild mushrooms (I got mine from Killbuck Valley Mushrooms at the North Union Market) w/thyme, shallot and garlic
Horseradish crème fraîche (let 1 c. warmed heavy cream and 1 TB. buttermilk sit at room temperature for 2 days, lightly covered, then refrigerate and add freshly ground horseradish, salt and lots of pepper)
chives for serving

1. Mix together everything for the dough besides the flour with a fork, being careful not to overmix. Add flour, work into a dough, and refrigerate 2 hrs or up to 2 days.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

3. Heat oil in dutch oven. Salt and pepper beef cheeks, then coat in flour (shaking off excess), and sear for about 6 minutes until browned. Remove to a plate.

4. Cook onion and carrot in dutch oven with a bit of salt until softened. Add garlic, sauté briefly, then add everything else through the chicken stock and return cheeks to pan. Heat to a simmer.

5. Cook in oven for 1 hour, then reduce heat to 225 degrees and cook for 4 more hours.

6. Remove pan from oven and cool cheeks in liquid in the refrigerator. After they are cold, remove them from the liquid and shred, discarding the small chunks of fat. (Do not shred before cooling–this will make the meat difficult to remove from the gelatinized liquid),

7. Strain remaining liquid and boil until reduced by 2/3. Cool slightly and return liquid to shredded beef.

8. Roll out pierogi dough in batches as thin as possible, then cut into about 3.5 inch circles (use your largest-mouthed glass). Stuff each with filling, wet edges and seal. (This takes an hour at least). Use plenty of flour, both to prevent dough from sticking to rolling surface and to prevent pierogies from sticking to each other. Pierogies may be stored at this point in the fridge for a couple days or in the freezer for a few months.

9. To cook, place pieorgies in lots (2 gallons at least) of boiling water, then remove once they float and sautee in butter until browned. Serve with mushrooms and crème fraîche.

The filling in these is unbelievably savory and beefy (with the red wine reduction clearly coming through) and the pierogies are almost pastry-like because of the butter, not so much chewy like standard ones.

I modified the printed recipe in a few ways:

  • You’re supposed to mix the raw egg, butter and sour cream by hand. I was not going to stick my hands into that kind of mess, and a fork (or even a spatula) works fine.
  • The book said to roll the dough to 1/8 inch. This is too thick for my taste, plus the fat in the dough allows you to roll it very thin without tearing.
  • You’re supposed to use a 3 inch biscuit cutter and fill with 1 TB. of filling. This is pretty much impossible, and even a slightly larger diameter significantly increases potential filling amount.
  • The pierogies are supposed to boil for 4 minutes after they float. I let them boil for 2 minutes, and they were a bit softer than I would have liked. So just waiting until they float is enough. After all, you’ll be sauteeing them afterwards.
  • Live to Cook at Home

    I also just made these for our Easter dinner and will be blogging about it soon. Channel 3 morning news actually interviewed me while I was making them, too cool! Anyways, I cheated & used store bought crème fraîche because I didn’t read the recipe far enough in advance to realize it took so long to make. Did you make it yourself?

    • Ben

      I did make the crème fraîche. It’s really easy, but mine took the full 48 hours to thicken up.

      It’s weird that we were making these at the same time. When I called Millgate, they asked me if I’d called them the day before. I said I hadn’t, so I’m thinking they thought I was you confirming the beef cheek request.

      You should post a link to the news footage (if it’s up) when you blog on the recipe.

  • Live to Cook at Home

    Good thing Millgate had plenty of cheeks. They were amazing. I bought a few extra pounds and while I may not go to all the trouble to make the pierogies on a regular basis, the braised cheeks would be amazing served over pasta, spatzele, rice, etc.

    I definitely will post a link to the video when I write about it! It hasn’t aired yet though…