Spelling is probably dependent on heritage. Almost every country has some sort of filled-dough thing. I didn’t like them as a kid. Now, not only do I love them, but I’ve learned to make them. If all you have had is the mass-produced ones bought in the grocer freezer section (ala Cheemo) then you are missing out. Like every handed down recipe I have it seems that it takes about three times to get it down. The first time was frustrating. In fact, I gave up and my sweetheart finished them. The second time I enjoyed it. The third time I figured out some tricks to make them easier. Did you know that dough tends to have one side that is stickier?
While there are many recipes with slight variations on the filling and the dough. Some with egg, some without, some with fruit fillings, some with real cheese instead of the Cheez Whiz™. The only real issue with any recipe is the source. Grandmother’s are the only reliable source for this. This one is from my wife’s grandmother. Reliability guaranteed.
You’ll need some flour, oil, salt, milk, Cheez Whiz™, and potatoes. That’s it. To serve, some kielbasa and a beer works very well.
4 1/2 (probably 5) cups flour depending on weather conditions (plus more for rolling)
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil (vegetable)
pinch of salt
Boil the potatoes. I did about seven medium-sized ones, but making too much isn’t a problem. While the potatoes are cooking you can start on the dough. You don’t have to watch too closely on those, I don’t think it’s possible to overcook them for this recipe. just don’t run out of water in the pot, that would be bad. Not that I’ve done that or anything.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and pinch of salt.
Put the milk and water into a microwave-safe bowl and heat it to lukewarmish. Really, just don’t have it cold. I aim for about 90-100F. Luke-warmish. To this stir in the oil. Stir it around so it’s not separate layers. Make a well in the flour, pour in the liquid and make a dough out of it. This will make a pretty sticky dough and you’ll have to add a bit more flour depending on the weather conditions. It’s dough. It’s sort of scientific and sort of a lot of hocus-pocus for really good dough. Now some recipes call for an egg-based dough, but eggs make for tougher dough. Some call for sour cream and you can do that, but I prefer to keep the flavors of the elements separate for the old pyrohy and use sour cream as a final serving suggestion. The same goes with the water for which you could reserve a cup of the potato water and use it, but I want my dough to taste like dough and frankly, there’s enough starch and carbohydrates in these things to start. No need to save more starch for the dough.
When the potatoes are done, drain and mash them up and add some Cheez Whiz™. Do this while they are still warm. Easier to blend when it melts. The amount of the Whiz is going to depend on your preference. For seven or so medium-largish potatoes about two and a half rather well-rounded tablespoonfuls. You need less of the Whiz™ than you might expect. Don’t overdo it because it should taste like potatoes and too much Whiz will make distributing the filling more difficult. Don’t worry about making too much potato mixture. You can always make croquettes or potato pancakes out of leftover mixture the next day.
Okay. Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. I don’t salt the water. The pyrohies don’t need the extra salt in my opinion.
Divide the dough into quarters or so — whatever size you’re comfortable rolling with — and roll fairly thin (maybe a bit less than 2mm or a smidgen less than a 1/4 inch) on a well-floured surface. And I do mean well-floured. This dough is sticky and you will never finish if the dough is sticking to the surface. The thickness is just a guide. Some like a doughier result and some like a more filling result.
Using a round cookie cutter about two to two and a half inches in diameter, cut a circle and place it stickier side up. This is important. The stickier side will stick to itself and the less sticky side won’t stick to your fingers. It’s not rocket science, but it does make forming the old pyrohy easy. Place a small ball of filling in the middle. Again, see the picture for an idea and some like more filling some like less filling. Fold the dough over at the center, not squishing the potato filling too much and pinch it together. Then just work from center to outside to close it up. The dough is nice and stretchy, so stretch it a bit when needed. Throw it into the pot. When it floats fish it out and place it on a sheet with some wax paper. I use the wax paper as it makes it a little easier to get them up instead of sticking to the counter. Repeat about 120 times. If you’re lucky, your sweetheart will make little potato filling balls while you put them together. Having to clean your hands of potato and cheese mixture millions of times is time-consuming. Once you figure out a ball size, make all the balls first and then assemble.
Ideally, you serve these fried up with butter and onions, topped with sour cream and with some kielbasa or other sausage. For me, the sausage needs to come from a small prairie town with a name like Odessa, Montmartre, Moosomin, Yorkton or my personal preference Vibank. It should come in the butcher wrap or in some cases wrapped in plastic and masking tape.