Yes, if you’re like our family, the comfort food of summer is a batch of doughy, fried, carbohydrate-filled pastries for dinner. Actually, we didn’t just wake up one day simultaneously craving pirogis. We were led to this place along a path of crab for breakfast, lunch, and also, dinner. In good summers, we catch a lot of Dungeness crab right off of the island shores in Legoe Bay.
Our forager genes kick in hard during the summer and we hate to let any of the crustaceans get by us. My husband and oldest son are willing to sit and pick out pounds of lump crab meat that has been eaten in omelets, cakes, spring rolls, salads, and burgers, along with a little surf and turf. When the boys and a friend pulled up the pots two nights ago and came home with another 10 crabs, we knew we needed to reach out for one more application for the season.
As luck would have it, Gabe and I were in a second-hand shop and found a real time saving tool. This gadget is circa 1984 and was advertised on TV! Can’t you see the light in the eyes of the mother who received this pirogi press for her Christmas present that year?
Allan’s family has a big tradition of pirogi making. The matriarchs on his father’s side carried on this eastern German ritual and pretty much yearly, a pirogi-making extravaganza is called and we all dutifully show up to roll, cut, fill, and pinch for hours. Then we sit down to eat our body weights in fried dumplings and wish for at least a smidgen of salad to help pull it all through the alimentary tract.
After indulging in heavenly pirogis in Krakau last winter, I have been wanting to make them myself, but every time I try to get my mind around doing it, I weaken in the face of all the separate preparations, the hours of formation, and the inevitable improperly sealed blobs that break open in the boiling water.
I have to give most of the credit for this pirogi festival to Allan and Gabe. They cracked the crab, mashed the potatoes, pitted and thickened cherry filling, mixed the dough and then Gabe got busy and perfected the rolling, filling, and molding while Allan boiled and fried. Where was I? I had some errands to run off-island with Anton, but believe me we jumped in to clean up the kitchen and freeze what we didn’t eat. By the way, internet advice suggests that these freeze perfectly, raw. Just freeze them individually on a baking sheet and then dump them together into a freezer bag. It seems that they cook even better when they are tossed, frozen, into the boiling water.
I really liked this pastry. It was easy to work with and fried up light and crispy. For our crab perogis, we tossed together lump crab meat, Parmesan cheese, and minced raw onion. They were very reminiscent of crab wontons, but there’s nothing wrong with that. You might want to earmark the recipe for next January when you will be a little more hungry for filling food.