Food & Drink

In the Kitchen With: Casey Barber’s BBQ Pulled Pork Pierogies

by Kristina Gill

Casey Barber, cookbook author and editor of Good. Food. Stories, is no newcomer to the column. She has already shared recipes with our readers over the years, including Drunken Spaghetti with Clams and Coconut Cherry Suzy Qs. In honor of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, she is sharing a recipe for BBQ Pulled Pork Pierogies from her upcoming book, Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food. Having just returned from a quick trip to Nashville — where I did manage to get one pulled pork sandwich in — I must say these pierogies are a great option to have available at your holiday festivities. As Casey notes, you will have a lot of pulled pork left over, which means plenty of sandwiches for later! Happy Fourth! —Kristina

Why Casey loves this recipe: The cliché is that bacon is the gateway meat, but I feel like I could make a pretty good case for pulled pork. It’s just as intoxicatingly fragrant, it’s tender and juicy, and you get much more bang for your buck with a pork shoulder than a belly. This pierogi is much easier to eat than the Pulled Pork Pierogi Stacker, a sandwich served at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ ballpark. Instead of trying to squish pierogies on top of a pile of pulled pork on a sandwich, why not just put the pulled pork directly inside and eat it in one bite? So much simpler, and SO satisfying.


BBQ Pulled Pork Pierogies
Makes Approximately 24

Full disclosure: you only need a small quantity of pulled pork to fill your pierogies, but nature doesn’t make small pork shoulders. So I’m giving you my favorite recipe for making an entire tender, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth pork shoulder overnight in the slow cooker. You can freeze any leftover cooked pork shoulder for future use in enchiladas, casseroles, sandwiches, or whatever your heart desires. It might be one of the most valuable recipes in the book!

Basic savory dough

– 2 large eggs
– 1/2 cup (4 ounces, 113 grams) sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (full-fat, reduced-fat, or nonfat)
– 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces, 43 grams) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces, 240 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon water

Pierogi Filling

– 2 tablespoons kosher salt
– 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
– 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon ground coriander
– 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
– 1 ⁄ 4 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
– 1 ⁄ 4 teaspoon celery seeds
– 1   4- to 5-pound bone-in pork shoulder (also called picnic shoulder) or 1 3- to 4- pound boneless pork shoulder
– 2 medium onions, cut into chunks
– 4 large carrots, peeled and halved
– 4 garlic cloves, halved
– 1   14-ounce can diced tomatoes
– 1   12-ounce bottle beer of choice

BBQ Sauce

– 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
– 1 small or 1/2 medium red onion, minced
– 4 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 cup (12 ounces, 340 grams) ketchup
– 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) dark beer, such as a brown ale or dark lager
– 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
– 2 tablespoons honey
– 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
– 1 teaspoon pure chile powder, such as Ancho or California
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

For Dough:

1. Whisk 1 egg, sour cream or yogurt, butter, and salt in a bowl. Pour flour into a large bowl. Gently stir wet ingredients into flour. The dough will initially be very dry and shaggy, seeming as if it will never come together, but have no fear: Keep stirring, and it will pull itself into shape.
2. Once the dough starts to come together, press and smash it against the sides of the bowl with your palms, picking up dough bits and essentially kneading it within the bowl until it forms a ball.
3. Tip dough and any remaining shaggy flakes out onto a clean work surface or Roul’Pat. Knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover dough with the bowl and let rest 15 minutes.
4. Whisk remaining egg and water in a small bowl for egg wash.

For Pulled Pork:

1. Stir the salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, coriander, fennel seed, thyme, and celery seed together in a bowl. Rub the spice blend liberally onto the pork shoulder.
2. Place the onions, carrots, and garlic in the bottom of a 7-quart slow cooker or large Dutch oven. Set pork atop vegetables. Pour the can of tomatoes and beer around the pork.
3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours in a slow cooker or for 3 to 4 hours in a 325-degree oven, until fork-tender. Transfer the pork to a platter until cool enough to handle. Discard the vegetables.
4. Shred the cooled pork by hand into bite-size strips, discarding large chunks of fat. Or tear the pork into palm-size pieces, discarding any large chunks of fat, place into a stand mixer bowl, and shred with the paddle on low speed.  (Pork can be made up to 5 days ahead; wrap and freeze if making more than 24 hours ahead or cover and refrigerate if making 1 day ahead.)

For BBQ Sauce:

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft and starting to caramelize, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
2. Whisk in the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook until the BBQ sauce has reduced and thickened, about 40 minutes. (Sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)


1. Place 1 heaping cup (4 ounces, 113 grams) shredded pork and 1/4 cup sauce in a mini food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. (Reserve remaining pork for another meal, and reserve remaining sauce for dipping or for another use.)
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper.
3. Divide rested dough into 4 equal pieces with a bench scraper or knife. Set aside 3 dough pieces and cover with the mixing bowl. Roll remaining dough as thinly as possible into a rough 8- x 12-inch rectangle.
4. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 6 rounds of dough. If the dough isn’t quartered evenly, you may get 5 rounds from one piece and 7 from another. Resist the temptation to re-roll dough scraps for additional rounds. It seems wasteful, but the dough won’t be as tender the second time around.
5. Spoon 1 teaspoon filling into the center of dough rounds.
6. Using your finger, swipe a very scant amount of egg wash—just a light touch—around the dough edge.
7. Fold into a half-moon shape: Either fold the dough over the filling on the work surface—I call this “the blanket”—or gently cup the pierogi in your hand in a U shape—I call this “the taco.” Gently but firmly seal the pierogi by pinching and squeezing the edges together with your thumb and pointer finger. Start with one pinch at the top, then move to one “corner” of the pierogi and pinch along the edge back to the top. Repeat on the opposite side to finish sealing the pierogi.
8. Transfer to the baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough rounds and filling. Freeze on the baking sheet, refrigerate up to 3 hours, or cook immediately.

Cooking and storing pierogies:

To boil fresh or frozen pierogies: Boil a pot of water over medium-high heat (fill approximately 1 quart water for every 6 pierogies). Add pierogies and cook until floating, 2 to 3 minutes for fresh and 4 to 5 minutes for frozen.

To pan-fry fresh or boiled pierogies: Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil (like canola or vegetable) or melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add as many pierogies as will fit in a single layer without crowding. Cook until pierogies are brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with additional oil or butter and pierogies. To cook large batches for parties, you can also pan-fry pierogies on an electric or two-burner stovetop griddle.

To deep-fry fresh or frozen pierogies: Use an electric deep fryer or a large, high-sided pot filled with at least 2 inches of vegetable or canola oil (fill the pot no more than 1/3 full). Heat oil to 350 degrees. Add pierogies and cook until golden brown; frying time varies based on equipment, about 3 minutes for fresh and 5 minutes for frozen.  Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Transfer pierogies to the baking sheet and cool for 1 minute.

Reprinted from Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food, © 2015 by Casey Barber

About Casey: Casey Barber is a freelance food writer, photographer, and editor of the critically acclaimed website Good. Food. Stories. She is also the author of Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats, the illustrator of A is for Absinthe: A Spirited Book of ABCs, and the co-writer of Inspired Bites: Unexpected Ideas for Entertaining from Pinch Food Design. Though she’ll always be a Pittsburgher at heart, Casey lives in New Jersey with her husband, two cats, and a freezer full of kielbasa, sour cherries… and pierogies. Find out more at caseybarber.com. You can also find Casey on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


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