On my first day in Krakow back in 2015, I lucked into the annual pierogi festival. Loosely defined as Polish dumplings, pierogi is a national dish of Poland, and one of my favorite. Thus, when I had the opportunity to take a homemade pierogi class during my Trablin conference, I leapt at the chance!
Urban Adventures Krakow
Urban Adventures Krakow is a team of eleven guides leading over a dozen group and private tours around the city. One of those tours is called Home Cooked Krakow. While the format of the tour can change slightly depending on the day, the premise is the same. The guide will take you to someone’s home for everyone to learn how to make homemade pierogi from start to finish.
Tomasz is the co-owner of Urban Adventures Krakow. I and three other travel bloggers had the honor of getting him as our guide. We couldn’t have been luckier with what he had planned for us (not that the usual tour isn’t just as good).
The first step of our tour was the local farmer’s market. Not just any market. The oldest in town. Stary Kleparz originally opened in the 15th century and has been a local favorite ever since. Six days a week, local farmers or their wives bring fresh produce and dishes to town.
Tomasz first taught us how to say “Good day. I would like to purchase…” in Polish (Dzień dobry! Poprosić…), along with the six ingredients we needed for the pierogi. We would be making “Russian” pierogi with a cheese, potato and onion filling. The six ingredients were high-quality flour, rapeseed oil, cheese, onions, eggs and potatoes. We each got to order one or two items in Polish, which happens to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn.
On the way to our cooking station, Tomasz stopped off at a bakery where Pope John Paul II (who used to live in Krakow) gets his favorite pastry Kemowka, which we purchased as a post-meal snack. We also picked up some drinks to enjoy with our meal.
Making it Personal
With everything in hand, we made our way to our kitchen. Or more specifically, the kitchen of Tomasz’ mom! Even though it was her anniversary, she opened up her home to teach us her world’s best homemade pierogi. We gave her some flowers we picked up at the market and then began the class in earnest.
The first step was peeling and cutting the onions and potatoes. While the potatoes boiled and the onions fried in butter, we watched the mom mix the flour, rapeseed oil, eggs, warm water and a dash of salt into the dough, which then was properly kneaded by several pairs of washed hands.
Setting the dough aside under a bowl to keep it moist, we mashed the potatoes, onions and cheese together, along with lots of pepper and a bit of salt. Tomasz taught us to go heavy on the pepper, as some would dissolve when boiled. We rolled this mixture into dozens of small balls each a little under an inch in diameter.
Finally, the dough was rolled out into a nearly translucent sheet. Every house in Poland has its own pierogi shape-cutter. We used an old mug with a thin edge and just the right size – about 3 inches across. As one person cut out circles of dough, the rest of us placed a ball of the mixture into the dough and closed it up, taking care to ensure the dumpling was completely sealed and no water would get in during boiling.
By the time we ran out of dough, we had made nearly 80 pierogi! These were placed in a pot of boiling water in small batches. Initially, the pierogi would sink. They were done when they floated to the surface. Tomasz served us plate after plate of our own homemade pierogi topped with grilled onions.
They were delicious! Not to crow or anything, but we made them better than anything I’ve had yet in a restaurant. Surprisingly, the mom agreed. After we left, she made another batch with the leftover filling!
Perhaps the only problem with the class was…well…we made too many! They just kept coming. We were all stuffed long before we ran out, and I think I was the only one who could eat the custard pastry which was meant for dessert. Barely.
Throughout the tour, Tomasz gave us a steady stream of information. We learned about Polish food and the market, and also about history, customs and traditions, and even got a taste of local music.
Homemade Pierogi Recipe
Booking the Krakow Urban Adventures Home Cooked Tour
- Meeting Point: 1 Dluga Street
- Starting time: 10:00 a.m.
- Price: €60 ($72)
- Phone: (+48) 665 015 665
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: Krakow Urban Adventures
- What to bring: Comfortable walking shoes and a big appetite.
- Best time of year to visit: Jan-Dec. As a good portion of this tour is outside, it’s better to book on a sunnier day if possible. Tram tickets will be provided if needed due to the weather, but otherwise not a lot of walking.
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