Perogy recipes are simple, but if you’ve ever tried to squeeze a few trade secrets from a baba, you know it’s next to impossible.
So any time a fourth-generation perogy master is willing to share secrets from her great grandmother’s cheddar perogies, you listen up.
Lasha Gust, head chef at Wishbone, 10542 Jasper Ave., picked up a lot of tricks watching her mom, grandmother and great-grandmother cook family meals in their Ukrainian/German household, and gleefully grabbed the torch of family perogy maker.
Gust seemed destined to make her career in the kitchen from a very young age.
“When my mom was pregnant with my sister, I was four years old, and she food-prepped items to freeze [for] when there was a newborn in the house … I would ‘help’ and pretend we were on a cooking show, telling the audience what we were doing,” she says.
Gust thrives on restaurant-style cooking where attention to detail, creativity, and consistency are the calling cards.
She also takes great joy in the more casual experience of cooking for family at home. Luckily, family is never far away for the chef. She works with her sister Madison in the restaurant and they live together.
And eat perogies.
Since good perogies boil down to just two important factors, the dough and the filling, there’s little room for error. That also means that small tweaks to ingredients or techniques can make all the difference.
Gust shared that her great-grandmother Victoria’s secret to a tender dough is to use the water the potatoes were boiled in, and don’t overwork the dough. The result is a very tender dough with a good chew.
After rolling out the dough and cutting circles to size, Gust’s family doesn’t usually re-roll the leftover dough and cut more circles. Instead, the scraps of dough get fried and dusted with powdered sugar for a sweet treat.
As for the filling, being generous with the cheese is key, as is making sure to stuff them full.
Nobody likes a half-filled perogy.
Lasha Gust’s perogy recipe
4 or 5 russet potatoes, peeled and boiled. Save the water.
1 cup old cheddar
¼ cup butter
1½ cups potato water
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour (and more for dusting)
Peel and boil potatoes in salted water.
While potatoes are boiling, place cheddar and butter for filling in a bowl. Add ingredients for the dough into a mixer or another bowl.
Drain potatoes, saving 1½ cups of water, adding it to the dough ingredients. Mix dough. It will be a bit tacky, but should become smooth in about five minutes of mixing. Wrap in plastic. Let rest.
Mash potatoes with butter and cheddar. Season with pinches of salt.
Working in batches, roll dough out on a floured surface to a thickness of about 4 mm.
Using a circle cutter or water glass, cut rounds of dough.
Scoop filling into each round. Fold in half, sealing edges with dabs of water.
Lightly dust the outsides with flour to keep them from sticking.
Boil in salted water and enjoy. Try topping yours with bacon, dill and sour cream.
Final tip: Perogies can be frozen in a single layer and enjoyed later.