Traditional Polish Christmas Eve meal - Barszcz with Pierogi :-)

This time of the year is very busy for everyone. Preparation for this special meal can take up a lot of time. But it is so worth it!!! I usually make my pierogi a few days in advance and freeze them. That way I have a few more hours on Christmas Eve to do some other things (eg: painting nails red or some other very important tasks:-)) This is my family recipe with my little twist. I really hope you will try it out!

For the Pierogi (I made 60 of them)
3 glasses of flour
300 ml of very warm water
500 g sauerkraut
a handful of dried wild mushrooms (I had porcini)
250g button mushrooms
1 big onion
salt and pepper
1 shot of vodka (I used polish Żubrówka) - this is optional, you can also substitute it with cognac
1 tablespoon of butter

You probably should start with the filling first. Boil sauerkraut with wild mushrooms for about 15-20 minutes, you just want to make sure the cabbage is soft. Grate the cup mushrooms and chop the onion. Fry it until tender with the butter and a little pinch of salt. Drain the cabbage and wild mushrooms, chop it a little bit. Mix with the onion and mushrooms and fry for a couple of minutes. You can pour the water from a boiled sauerkraut and porcini. It is very aromatic so you don't really want to lose it. Finally add in a shot of vodka. The key here is to make sure that the mix is quite dry. Season to taste and let it cool down completely.
 For the dough, combine the flour with water and a big pinch of salt. Knead the dough until it is smooth and stretchable. Roll the dough into a very thin sheet. Cut the round shapes using a glass. Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre and 'glue' the edges to make the pierogi. Continue folding  until you have them all  ready to boil. Boil in the a big pan of simmering water with added olive oil and salt. Boil for 3 minutes, until pierogi are floating on the surface.
Once cooled down, I like to fry them with bacon. The skin gets crispy and so yummy, you can't resist having one or two more...:-)

Now let's move on to the barszcz!

For 2litres you will need:
2 raw beetroots (grated)
1 carrot (grated)
0.5 leek (chopped)
2 stalks of celery (chopped)
2 litres of vegetable stock
salt and pepper 
pinch of marjoram
bay leaf and all spice to taste
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
juice of half a lemon
little bit of lemon zest

Pour the vegetable stock over all vegetables, marjoram, bay leaf and all spice and boil just for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it infuse for few hours. After that time drain the veg to have a clear soup. Add sugar, lemon juice and zest. Serve it hot with pierogi or drink on its own in a mug, 

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