Mar 9, 2016
Let's start with the corned beef... You should make it yourself. And I don't mean buying the pre-packed brisket with the little spice packet from Giant Eagle. Don't worry if you've never done it before - it's much easier than you probably think!
If you don't have a whole spice shack in your kitchen, it's likely you'll have to purchase a few of these. We bought all of them at Urban Herbs at West Side Market in bulk - 1 oz each to give you an idea of the cost of making corned beef from scratch. It was $17 for 1 oz of each of the spices below - keep in mind that you probably have some of these already and that you don't need to buy a whole ounce of each.
We bought a 3 lb brisket at Tayse Meats - which was enough for 12 giant pierogi plus 4 giant sandwiches. The nice thing about buying it from the butcher is that you can order as little as you like!
3 lb fresh beef brisket
2 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pink cure salt (you can get this at Williams-Sonoma or order it online)
1/4 cup brown sugar
10 cloves garlic, smashed*
4 sticks ceylon cinnamon*
8 bay leaves*
2 tablespoons mustard seeds*
2 tablespoons peppercorns*
2 tablespoons coriander seed*
2 tablespoons whole allspice*
2 tablespoons dill seed*
2 tablespoons juniper berries*
2 teaspoons whole cloves*
4 star anise*
*For all of the spices, you will only need half for the brine. Reserve the other half for slow cooking the corned beef.
Bring the water, salt, sugar & spices to a boil and stir until the salt has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, place the brisket into a plastic bag and pour in the brine. Seal the bag tightly, then place the brisket in the fridge to brine for 5 days.
After 5 days, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse it thoroughly under cold water for 5 minutes or so, to remove any excess salt. Place the corned beef into your slow cooker, fill it with enough water to cover the top of the brisket, then pour in the other half of the spices. Cook on low for 6 hours. If you don't have a slow cooker, you can use a pot of water on the stove and just keep it at a simmer.
That's it! You have corned beef. Use a serrated knife, or better, a meat slicer to thinly slice the corned beef.
Next, it's time to stuff this corned beef into pierogi! Let's get down to it:
Corned Beef (Reuben, really) Pierogi (makes 10-12 jumbo 3" pierogi)
- Pierogi Dough -
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (leave out for an hour), cut into squares
1 teaspoon baking powder (optional, but it makes the dough soft & puffy!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Filling -
Mashed potatoes (2 Russet potatoes, 4 tablespoons butter)
1/2 lb corned beef, shaved or shredded
1/2 cup fresh sauerkraut (we didn't make it ourselves this time; instead we did the next best thing: bought it from Rita's in West Side Market, where they have giant bins full of their own homemade kraut)
1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds - mix into the sauerkraut
1/4 lb swiss, shredded (we bought a brick of Amish Baby Swiss from Meister in Westside and it was probably the best swiss either of us have had)
thousand island dressing, for drizzling
Prepare your mashed potato filling first. Peel your potatoes, then cube them. Boil the potato cubes for 15 minutes, or until they're fork-tender. Place the cubes into a bowl. Drop in the butter right away so that it begins to melt. Use a masher or potato ricer to mash. Set the mashed potatoes aside.
Next, the dough. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Crack the egg into the flour and use a wooden spoon to mix it in. Mix in the sour cream. Cut in the butter. Use your wooden spoon to mash the dough together until mostly uniform. Use your hands to knead the dough until it's uniform. It will be a soft, sticky dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
Once the dough has rested, it's time to stuff and seal the pieorgi, which you can accomplish in whatever way you like. The mashed potatoes, corned beef, caraway kraut (gives it a rye bread flavor), and swiss all get stuffed into these pierogi.
I roll it out into a 1/4" thick dough sheet. I then use dumpling presses made by the company I work for, Weston. The set has a variety of sizes, so you can make whichever size pierogi you like, including jumbo 3 inch, which lets you stuff it with corned beef, mashed potatoes sauerkraut AND swiss - a smaller pierogi would probably make that difficult. Anyway, with this press, I can just cut out circles of dough, lay them on top of the press, fill them, then close the press. And my pierogi is filled and sealed.
You can also seal the dough yourself. Either roll out small balls of dough into rough 3" circles or use something like a biscuit cutter to cut out circles. Then you place the filling in the center, fold the circle together into a half moon, and press together the edges.
Once they're all filled and sealed, boil the pierogi for 5 minutes. The dough is fresh, so it doesn't need much, but the boiling helps with softness. Remove from the water and saute in a couple tablespoons of butter 3 minutes on each side, or until gently browned.
Serve them with Thousand Island dressing drizzled on top (or drown them in a river of TI, like we did).
We each ate two - they're quite filling, so keep that in mind when you're serving. We froze the rest. Pierogi freeze quite nicely of course, and if sealed properly, should stay good for 6 months plus in the freezer.