Mike Kalina’s Pittsburgh Potato Cheese Pierogies


One of my most favorite foods. Growing up in Pittsburgh, pierogies were everywhere. Everywhere! The best are the ones made by church ladies, and my Aunt Bonnie (goddamnit, why do I not write down the dough recipe when I see her?).

My Gramsy was one of the pierogie ladies at St. Mary’s Church in Lawrenceville. “She went to pierogies” as she’d like to say, for years. She even had a “St. Mary’s Pierogie Princess” t-shirt. Which I now have. It is, obviously, one of my favorite t-shirts. I wish I had a picture of it.

But anyhoo, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at them, but just never did. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long. But over the weekend I finally–FINALLY! made them.

Which is fitting because October 8th is National Pierogie Day!!!!

Mike Kalina's PittsburghSince I cannot remember Aunt Bonnie’s dough recipe, I consulted  Mike Kalina’s
Pittsburgh Cookbook
(1991).  My mum got this for me this Christmas last year. I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t know who Mike Kalina is (apparently he was KDKA’s Phantom Diner!). Regardless, I think this cookbook is very  cool because it includes menus and recipes from Pittsburgh restaurants (some still there, some not). And weird little facts and old Pittsburgh photos.

But holy shit, I googled Kalina and THIS turned up.  Apparently he committed suicide in 1992 after it was suspected that he was accepting money from restaurants for favorable reviews in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He was apparently an extremely successful writer and tv personality and was on the cusp of going national in a big way but an investigation was to start, and he may have gotten throat cancer, so he ended it.

Ugh. I just found out all of this now. After I made the pierogies. Which were awesome. Seriously awesome.

So let’s forget all of that suicide shit and talk little dumplings, OK?

I chose this recipe because Kalina says that it’s his favorite pierogie recipe (there are 2 others in his book). I also chose it because it is a combo of onion, potato and cottage cheese filling.
pierogie recipes
pierogie recipe

Those are my favorite fillings. Well, that and sauerkraut. So I decided to take a look at another recipe for the sauerkraut filling. This one comes from a Ukranian Cookbook called Baba’s Cook Book  by Emily Linkiewich (1st published 1979).

Baba's Cook Book

IT’S A CANADIAN BEST SELLER! And a fun little book. The beginning provides the recipes for traditional Ukranian Christmas Eve and Easter menus. But here is the Pyrogi recipe…summerfall 027 baba's directions

My potato filling:

summerfall 036

My sauerkraut filling:

sauerkraut filling

My pierogie dough: summerfall 040

This dough rolled out perfectly. Look at how thin it is! I don’t know if I’ve just been using much better recipes (see the pork pie) or I just got so much better at making dough.

Now I could have used Katharine Bougcki’s method of making the pierogies, or used Baba’s illustrated directions, but I totally was lazy and used this little thingie that my mum gave me a couple of years ago…

dumpling maker

Well this little pocket machine was awesome. The yellow ring is for cutting the dough rounds, which you then put on the foldy-thing put a bit of stuffing, and press it together. This is the result:


Little perfect pockets!

So, after sauteing some onion in butter and boiling the pierogies, here they are!

pittsburgh pierogies

SO. GOOD. The sour cream on the side is a must.

The filling mostly fell out of the sauerkraut ones, but the potato/cheese were excellent.

I admit that the process was time consuming, but I think totally worth it. I froze the rest of them and had some more for dinner last night. I just dropped the frozen pierogies into boiling water. They came out perfectly. Totally easy weeknight dinner.

I look forward to making more dishes from both of these cookbooks.

Happy National Pierogie Day, kittens! Now, go make yourself some of these or at least buy a box of Mrs. T’s.

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9 Responses to Mike Kalina’s Pittsburgh Potato Cheese Pierogies

  1. Dad says:


    I hope you still have some in the freezer so your mother and I can enjoy pierogies when we come to visit next week. If not, you’re just gonna have to make another batch! SORRY! But they look so damn good my mouth is watering.


  2. Mum says:

    Nice shout out to Gramsy and Aunt Bonnie…the pierogie queens.

  3. Jill says:

    You made us ‘Burghers proud with this meal! So delicious-looking.

    My grandma’s pierogie recipe warms my heart every time I make them. The ingredient list reads, “…one egg, one eggshell of water…” So “old school” in the truest sense of the word.

  4. Eat The Blog says:

    When my kid was about four I brought a plate of pirogi to the table and was met with wails of, “Pirogis AGAIN?! That’s all you ever feed us!” Like it was child abuse making him eat homemade pirogi. Kids, what do they know?

    I need one of those gadgets. You made a beautiful plate of dumplings to be proud of.

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  6. Mark. says:

    Cream cheese in the dough is a variation I’ve seen some Ukrainians use. For example: http://www.ukrainianclassickitchen.ca/index.php?topic=7411.0

    My Dad used to use a similar dough recipe and a feta cheese or feta and potato filling, or sometimes blueberries with sugar. (Feta is very like a cheese favored in western Ukraine.)

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