Elk & Potato Pierogi
Courtesy of Chef John McGannon, wildeats.com
Makes app. 55 3-inch pierogi
For a classic Eastern European dish with a slant from the Rockies, cook up some pierogi. These dumplings filled with a wide variety of flavors can be savory or sweet. Generally, savory pierogi are filled with potatoes and any garnish you have available. My approach is to slowly braise small cubes of elk with onions and garlic. Then add pilsner beer and tomato juice. Team that with smashed red potatoes, scallions, ranch dressing and shredded jack cheese all wrapped in a delicate flour shell. What you get is a hearty, nutritious, wholesome and filling meat dumpling.
4½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp melted butter
2 cups sour cream
1 egg yolk
2 oz olive oil
Egg wash (beat well)
2 egg yolks
2 oz water
Mix all dry ingredients and form a well in the middle. Add the wet ingredients to the well and mix until the dough is smooth. Place this dough in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the proteins in the flour to relax, which yields a tender, delicate dough. When ready to prepare, roll the dough out to about 1⁄8” thick, cut with a 3” circle cutter.
Elk Pierogi Filling
4 lbs elk bottom round, cut into 1” cubes
5-6 tbsp mix of black peppercorns, dried thyme leaves and Italian juniper berries
1 cup flour
salt to taste
vegetable oil (for browning)
2 med yellow onions
3 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
1⁄2 tsp caraway seeds
2 bottles of pilsner beer
1 can V8 tomato juice
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Season meat with the rub and salt. Dust the meat with the flour. Heat the oil in a heavy gauge pan. Brown the meat on all sides. Then remove the meat to a crock-pot or heavy braising pot. Repeat until all the meat is done. Deglaze the pan with the beer, scraping the bottom to remove the residue. Add this liquid to the meat along with the remaining ingredients. Bring this up to a simmer, stirring well. Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook until the meat is tender (2-3 hours). Allow to cool.
Red Potato Filling
Bring cold water to a simmer, add approximately 12 red potatoes, cubed to 1 inch, and turn down to low and cook until just tender. Remove immediately, strain and allow to cool. Never leave cooked potatoes in the water they’re cooked in. It will give you a very heavy, starchy potato.
Remaining ingredients for filling:
1 cup ranch dressing
1 bunch green onions, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded jack cheese (or your own personal favorite)
Blend the above with the red potatoes and mash until smooth.
Lay the dough circle out, brush with the egg wash. Place a small scoop of the potato filling (approx. 1½ tbsp) on the dough, then take two elk cubes and place in the center of the potatoes. Fold the dough in half, closing the fillings in the center. Use a fork to crimp the edges.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a couple of the pierogi in at a time. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes or until they float. Remove and continue until all your pierogi are done. You can serve as is or brown dumplings in butter until they are golden brown on the bottom. These can be made in advance and frozen until needed.
John McGannon is a RMEF life member, host of wild game cooking seminars at Elk Camp and owner of WildEats Enterprises.