Ah! The pierogi. The perfect bite-sized, comfort food parcel. But as much as I love them today, these tender clouds of carb perfection were never part of my childhood. No, instead they played a vital role throughout my deeply embarrassing and economically fraught 20s. The frozen No Name pierogi was there when I simultaneously strapped for cash and time in university. The fresh pierogi was there when, in the midst of a rough patch to end all rough patches, my friend Paul invited me over to make the delectable dumplings with his Polish mama. And today’s Short Rib Pierogies were there when winter unexpectedly decided to call.
Yes, I owe a lot to the pierogi. They may not have the nostalgia surrounding them that, say, a tea biscuit has, but in some ways, I think that’s a good thing. After all, messing with classics can be a risky undertaking. For instance, I know my Grandmother’s fish chowder inside out and backward. I can make it in my sleep. So, when my cousin foolishly added a dash of cayenne to the pot some years ago, not only did I notice right away, I wrote off the entire batch. This wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted my childhood, not some tarted up version of it.
What’s funny is my adult-self loves heat and would never object to the addition of cayenne pepper in any other dish. But fish chowder is sacred. It’s stuck. It will only be satisfying if it mimics exactly what came before it. But when a meal isn’t hamstrung by childhood memories, it has leave to grow and change. It can be something exciting and new every time it gets revisited. These Short Rib Pierogies with Horseradish Chimichurri is one such dish.
As a disclaimer, I am neither Argentine nor am I Polish. I have no claim of authenticity to either side of this bizarre piece of fusion. I’m just a chimichurri and pierogi fan that thought the two might get along. I have made both chimichurri and pierogies several times before and each time both dishes have, in some small way, been different. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t gotten either right, but I think my lack of claim to either dish leaves me free to putz around with them. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I don’t know enough to know when I’ve created something blasphemous. There really is bliss in ignorance.
The idea for this weirdo Polish/Argentine dish came out of a desire to braise some short ribs. I had noticed a ton of short rib bolognese recipes floating around and I liked the concept of shredding the meat rather than serving it on a bed of polenta or the like. I started thinking about mixing the short rib meat into mashed potatoes as a reinterpretation of the classic roast beef dinner. Then I thought, what’s a roast beef dinner without horseradish? And then I thought, beef and chimichurri sauce is, like, so damn good. Can’t I just have it all?!
The actual pierogi concept, which really is the only thing holding this culinary mishmash together, was actually the last thing to the party. And this idea was largely born out of the realization that short rib mashed potatoes would probably not look appetizing – think cat food. But there was also the matter of the return of cold temperatures. You see, when the thermometer starts to hit the floor, I remember the pierogi exists. And with this craving for comfort food, these Short Rib Pierogies with Horseradish Chimichurri were born.
Pierogies may not have been something that came out of my mother’s kitchen, but they were something I introduced to mine. In some ways, they helped mark a divide between my family and the family I would eventually create for myself. Pierogis are something my partner and I make together and because we’re not precious about them, they always turn out a little batty…just like us.
- 1kg (2lbs) beef short ribs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 large russet potato, peeled
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh chives, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/4 cup chives, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh horseradish, shredded
- 3 Bird’s eye chilies, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Pat the short ribs dry with paper towel. Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large braiser over medium heat until shimmering. Add the short ribs and brown on all sides. Transfer the ribs to a plate and set aside.
- Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and saute until softened and lightly caramelized. About 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the red wine and add the beef broth, vinegar, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Give the mixture a quick stir.
- Add the short ribs back to the pot and bring the liquid up to a boil. Reduce the heat to a light simmer and cover.
- Let the ribs braise for 2 hours or until the meat shreds easily.
- Remove the ribs from the pot and shred the meat using two forks. Place the meat in a large bowl and set aside.
- Quarter the potato and place it in a medium-sized pot. Add enough water to cover the potato. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil the potato until tender. About 15 minutes.
- Drain the water and, using a potato masher, mash the potato. Add the potato to the short rib meat.
- Stir the sour cream, chives, and salt into the rib/potato mixture until smooth.
- Allow the mixture to cool completely.
- Sift flour and salt together in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, make a well in the center of the mixture.
- Add the sour cream, egg, egg yolk, water and chives to the center of well. Lightly beat the wet ingredients using a fork.
- Using a wooden spoon, start to push the dry ingredients into the wet until a shaggy dough forms.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead it until firm and silky.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use.
- Place all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer the sauce to the fridge.
- The sauce can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time.
- Roll the dough out to a 1/4 of an inch thickness.
- Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out a series of rounds from the dough.
- Place 1 tablespoon of the short rib filling on one side of the round. Fold the bare side over top of the filling and pinch the edges together to form a seal. Dust the pierogi with flour and set aside. Repeat until you run out of dough or filling or both.
- When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pierogies to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes or until pierogies start to float to the surface.
- While the pierogies are cooking, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet until shimmering.
- Transfer the cooked pierogies from the water to the hot skillet and fry until crispy and browned on both sides. About 2 minutes.
- Transfer the pierogies to a medium-sized mixing bowl and add the chimichurri. Give the bowl a toss to coat the pierogies in sauce.
- Divide the pierogies between six bowls and serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of pomegranate arils.