Holiday baking traditions: Pierogi

pierogi

Like many people I knew, my experience with pierogi was limited to the boxes purchased in the frozen foods aisle at the supermarket. Once or twice a year we’d buy a box saying, “Let’s try something different tonight.” We’d boil them up and serve with a little butter on top.

And they’d be fine. Not bad, not amazing, just fine. Some brands were definitely better than others, but pierogi weren’t something I really thought about often.

And then…

I started working at King Arthur Flour, in the test kitchen and classroom. Not only did I meet people who made pierogi from scratch, I met people who made really, really good pierogi from scratch.

Pierogi that you did think about all the time. Pierogi with tender wrappings of dough that was soft and pleasantly chewy at the same time. Pierogi that, despite basic fillings like potato and cheese, made you think that someone really cared about you, to make such a special treat. Add onions and shallots sautéed in butter and a dollop of sour cream, and heaven on a plate was yours.

Nowadays, pierogi are often part of our dinners at home. Brats and pierogi make for a fine Sunday night supper watching the end of the football game. Leftover pierogi make an excellent breakfast, sustaining through a long day.

I’m so pleased that the humble pierogi is included in our special Holiday Traditions emails this year. To me, it serves as a reminder that every great holiday dish doesn’t have to have fancy ingredients or take a month’s worth of preparation. Like family at its best, the pierogi is what it is; a simple reminder of home and hearth and comfort.

Come on in the kitchen and we’ll make Homemade Pierogi.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine the flour and salt.  Make a well in the center of the flour and add the egg.

Mix the egg into the flour. At this point the dough will feel very dry and clumpy; but have no fear, you’re on the right path.

Add the soft butter and sour cream. Work this in until the dough is a soft, rough, sticky mass.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface. At this point you don’t want to add any more flour, even though the dough is quite wet and sticky. Instead, pick up the dough with your fingers only and let it droop down towards the counter top.

With a flick of the wrist, slap the “front” of the dough down onto the counter firmly. Not hard enough to splatter dough all over the place, but firmly. Don’t let go of the dough yet.

Take the dough you’re still holding onto, and fold it backwards over the dough on the table. Now let go.

Grab the dough again, this time at one end, not in the middle.

Droop, slap, and fold the dough again and again. It’s very similar to folding T-shirts or towels. Droop, slap, fold.  Remember, no flour!

In a few minutes the dough will lose most of its stickiness and become much smoother. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.

While the dough is resting you can make the filling. Combine 1 cup of mashed potatoes and 1 cup of cheese. I like sharp cheddar cheese, but you can use mild cheddar or your favorite blend. Using shredded cheese is a big help, too.

Blend together until the cheese is melted, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to fill your pierogi.

At the end of the rest period the dough will be very soft and supple. The best description I’ve ever read was “earlobe soft.” Go ahead, feel your earlobe (or a friend’s, if they’ll let you), then feel the dough. A little bit soft, a little stretchy. Perfect.

Using half the dough at a time, roll out to 1/8” thickness. Use a 2” round cutter to cut several rounds of dough.

Hold one circle of dough in between your thumb and first finger. Add a ball of filling, about 1/2  tablespoon. Push up with your finger and thumb to begin to close the dumpling.

Use the fingers of your other hand to pinch the seam together. The soft dough should come together easily.

Use a fork to finish sealing the dumplings. Set each aside on a lightly floured surface. Covering the pierogi with plastic wrap will keep them from drying out on the surface.

Soon it’s the pot for you, my pretties!

As you bring a stockpot of water to a boil, also begin melting the butter and shallots for sautéeing the boiled pierogi.

Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat so it’s not boiling roughly. Add about 10 to 12 pierogi. At first they’ll sink into the water, but after about 8 to 10 minutes, they’ll begin to float to the top.

Once all the pierogi are floating, cook for an additional minute, then transfer with a slotted spoon or spider to the pan of butter and shallots.

Sauté the dumplings in the butter until they’re golden brown and the shallots are caramelized. Toss the pan to coat both sides of the pierogi well.

Mmmm, can you just smell that?!!

Serve the hot pierogi with a good dollop of sour cream. Other favorite toppings include more caramelized shallots or onions, bacon, ketchup (Andrea’s favorite), plain yogurt, and mushroom gravy. So far, I haven’t met a topping I didn’t like.

You can definitely tailor the fillings to your taste, too. Sauerkraut, mushrooms, lentils, and cabbage appear in many savory fillings. Prunes, dried fruits, and berries can be used for sweet fillings.

No matter how you fill your dumplings, pierogi will be a surefire hit at your holiday table, and throughout the whole year.

Please make, rate, and review our recipe for Homemade Pierogi.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. wisecarver

    Excellent.
    Q: I’ve made my own for a long time but with a slightly differnt dough. Bread flour and 1/4 teaspoon of Baking powder for each 2 cups.
    Mine may be a bit chewier(Traditional)…Any thoughts?

    Thanks for sharing your version. I think; if you enjoy your recipe, don’t change a thing. The “right” way is the way that works for you. Give our version a try when you have time to play. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  2. J Kobialka

    Can these be frozen right after assembling, or between steps 8 & 9? Considering making a huge batch of these for quick meals during the upcoming crazy holiday rush. Thanks!

    Yes these freeze nicely. See step 8. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  3. suzfondl

    So nice to see a favorite recipe. I grew up eating pierogi in Pennsylvania, where they are as common a side dish as french fries. The biggest difference is after the boiling step, they are left to drain/dry on paper towels, then deep fried until they are golden & crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Then salted & served with ketchup or vinegar! The recipe that I have (from my Oma) starts with a 5lb bag of flour…you make pierogi all day, then bag them up & freeze them.
    Until this year, I’ve been afraid of frying but with my induction burner, it’s much easier. I think that a big plate of fried pierogi will be on the table for our next football afternoon. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. cmocva

    How many 2 inch pierogis does this make? the recipe from link says 1-2 dozen depending on size…btw… LOVE your blog :0)

    At 2″ you’ll get close to 2 dozen. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  5. Catherine George

    I grew up on a farm in the 30′s and 40′s with Polish neighbors all around us.. . .the most fabulous cooks in the world! And the most generous hospitality givers. I still remember those savory periogi and other specialties of the Polish tradition. Never got brave enough to try them myself. Thanks for this simple recipe and as usual the fantastic pictures of steps for success. I look forward to every blog.

    Reply
  6. csrockwell

    I am pretty excited to try this one. We used to have an elderly Polish lady who used to bring us Blueberry Pierogi (with a dusting of powdered sugar) a few times of year and we would fight for every last one of those. I suppose its not traditional, but it was a favorite dessert.

    It appears that this dough would adapt to both sweet and savory fillings. Any thoughts on how “dry” the filling would need to be on this one?

    I think if you keep the filling the consistency of “putty”, you’ll be fine. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  7. cwolfpack3

    Aficionados of a certain chili dog and pierogi shoppe in Pennsylvania will wonder about instructions for making fried pierogies. Deep fried pierogies, drained, and lightly salted on the outside are the perfect counterpoint to chili and dogs, taking on the ordinary french fry and adding a Polish twist to the tale with their puffy and crispy fried dough, and the soft, creamy middle.

    Do you have any suggestions for frying them?

    I grew up in St. Louis enjoying fried ravioli. I think you could give this a try. You’ll need to pay particular attention to rolling the dough out. The dough needs to be uniformly thin, for even frying. If it’s too thick, the pierogi will be tough and doughy. It may be helpful to allow the pierogi to “dry” a little while to develop a light skin before frying. This is one of those “experiment, have fun” moments. Just be careful with that hot fat. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  8. mlauerbader

    Thanks for the alternative recipe. Three friends and I have been making about 300 (or a little less) pierogi on our “Pierogi Day” for many years. Our recipe doesn’t use sour cream and uses farmer’s cheese but is equally good. The pierogi freeze beautifully and we enjoy them all year. Nothing is better than homemade.
    WOW! Nearly 300?! I feel good if I make a few dozen. Guess I’m going to have to get the girls together for Ladies Pierogi night! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. Michelle C.

    What great nostalgia! My grandmother used “farmer cheese”, aka “pot cheese” in her potato pierogi. They (and sauerkraut ones) were a tradition with every meal she served.

    Now we just need a babka recipe. I think it’s “Easter” babka – golden raisins, no glaze, sort of challah or brioche-like lightly sweet egg-based bread.

    Reply
  10. mrshittle15814

    Thanks so much for posting this. i love pierogi, and have made them once, but they didn’t turn out nearly so well. The dough wasn’t as easy to work with as it looks like yours was, and the seams opened up… i don’t recall what recipe i used, but i am definitely going to give this one a try.
    I really do hope you give this a try. The dough is a joy to work with, and seals very well. Even with a simple filling, they are so comforting. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. bziol

    Thanks so much for this recipe. Being of Polish heritage, pierogi have been a very big part of my life. My son and I have been making them for years now as part of our traditional Christmas Eve “Wigilia” dinner, and our family’s favorite fillings are mushroom and onion, mashed potato and onion, and lightly sweetened ricotta cheese like a canoli filling. Every year we make between 8 and 10 dozen. In addition to the top 3 favorites, I like to add one additional filling to the group and last year did one with shredded apples, cinnamon and sugar. The dough recipes I have handed down from my aunt, as well as the really old Polish cookbooks I have, don’t call for anything other than flour, egg, salt, and a little bit of water. I am looking forward to trying this dough this year!

    Reply
  12. Alaskam

    Happy to see Russian traditional food being made in the US. I am Russian. This is exactly how we make it at home. For us this is common every day food. My mom made it weekly.
    Thanks very much, it makes me feel good to know that this brings back memories to folks. ~MaryJane

    Reply
  13. Irene in TO

    Ukrainian perogy dough: 8 cups flour, 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes premixed with 2 cups warm tap water, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt. Knead to a silky dough with as much additional water necessary following above steps.

    Filling: all savoury fillings include sauteed onions. Flavour much better. I prefer sauteed chopped wild or cremini mushrooms. Satueed sauerkraut also excellent. Make sure you add a tablespoon of flour after all visible liquid is evaporated in sauteeing on low heat, to prevent diasters in the dough.

    For fried, boil them first. They absorb a lot less frying grease.

    Freeze cooked perogies after cooling on bakers parchment on cookie sheets in one layer. After frozen solid, toss into zipping bags for storage. They can be put into frying pan straight from freezer to reheat.

    Reply
  14. Staci

    Great post! I’ve been making homemade pierogi for years. My favorite fillings consist of thinly shredded cabbage lightly fried with onion and bits of bacon in butter (halushki) or a combination of farmers cheese, egg, sugar, and orange rind (nalesniki). I do love a good sauerkraut and mushroom and a meat pierogi.

    Reply
  15. Pete

    Thanks for this recipe!

    I’ve made the Lithuanian version (koldunai, aka virtiniai) with beef/pork/veal a number of times, and I like your approach to the dough, should add a ton of great flavor! I’ll have to try it out!

    Reply
  16. Cindy leigh

    Great recipe, very clear directions and pictures, thanks!
    I have made lazy man’s pierogis many times- layered lasagna noodles with mashed potatoes, cheddar, etc. Worked ok when I was really craving the flavor, and had lots of leftover mashed potatoes.
    I was thinking about using my KitchenAid pass roller to roll out some dough and using my ravioli form, and filling with the pierogis mixture. That dough (pasta dough) is more firm than yours, though.
    I’ll have to give this a try!
    Thanks for the idea Cindy leigh. We made WAY too much mashed potatoes on Thursday, so lazy pierogi sounds like it’s in my future. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  17. KimberlyD

    These look yummy! Can this be used for chines dumplings? Have you ever heard of pasties (the kind you eat) they are made in Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula of Michigan, very yummy! You make dough the size of a small dinner plate and fill it with uncooked meat and veggies. Like steak and potatoes, for example. Some even are half savory and half sweet.

    When I was in the test kitchen, this dough felt different than the dumpling dough I’ve used at “dumpling parties”. I think the “traditional” Chinese dumpling dough is much leaner, just flour and water. Give this a try and tell us all what you think. Frank @ KAF.

    Hi Kimberly,
    This dough won’t work very well for Asian dumplings, but a blog on those is coming after the new year, so stay tuned.
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  18. vivmwood

    My mum always made lots of little balls of dough and rolled each out to about 3″. This looks easier. Her filling was unique, she learned it from her mother in law. We have no idea where it originated. The filling consisted of cabbage (not sauerkraut), onions, smashed potatoes and dry cottage cheese. The cabbage was par-boiled, the potatoes boiled and mashed, the onion sauted in butter. Everything was mixed together and seasoned with salt and pepper, then stuffed and boiled. Oh yes, the first night we ate them as is… with lots and lots of melted butter. The next day we had them fried in melted butter. She would make over 100 for 2 adults and 3 kids. They went in 2 days. Now, at 87, she can’t stand so long, so she makes a lasagna-like casserole with everything included.

    Happy Holidays!

    Reply
  19. RobertaJ

    bziol, my recipe for the dough is the same as yours. It’s the one my Mom used, and she said it was same as the one her mother used. We used to use ricotta cheese, sweetened with some sugar, an egg, some cinnamon and “plumped” raisins as a filling. I loved those when I was a kid. Now I prefer the savory ones. I make potato/cheese, hamburger/kraut/mushrooms and kraut/mushrooms each year. Almost time to think about cranking them out again ! Yum…pierogies on Wigilia !

    Reply
  20. cynthia20932

    I just made about 80 pierogies (sp.?) yesterday, before i saw this post. My recipe is similar to yours. My grandparents immigrated from Poland. I made pierogi for my college age kids coming home for Thanksgiving. I made mashed potato and cheese filling and was looking for some Vermont Cheese Powder to add – just think how good that would be! Apparently I was all out of it, and it’s on order, but I added some pizza dough flavoring to my potato/cheese filling, because it had garlic and cheese in it. I think that will be very tasty! I also made some filled with leftover turkey and a bit of gravy. They’re in the freezer now, bagged up and ready to boil and saute with butter and onions for brunch. Thanks for this great post!
    What a great idea! I have 3 bags of Vermont Cheese Powder in my pantry and never thought to add it to the filling. Guess what I’ll be doing on my next day off? Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  21. Motherearthpam

    Yummmm….
    I went to school with Polish Nuns. They can definitely bring the feeling of hearth and home to the meal time.
    How about trying your KAF hand at one of their traditional breads…
    Babka bread.
    The nuns at the convent in Enfield Connecticut make it twice weekly but it’s too far to drive.
    That would be a great Easter bread.
    Pam Baker
    HI Pam,
    I know that PJ has done a couple of chocolate babka recipes in the past, but maybe this spring we can revisit traditional babka. Thanks for the suggestion. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  22. zairesabode

    Great winter project. I love the idea of making a big batch of anything, enjoying some right away, and freezing small portions for quick meals.
    QUESTION: In the recipe you suggest freezing prior to boiling… When it’s time to cook, I’m guessing you boil the pierogi right from the freezer, yes? What would that take, maybe 12-14 minutes?
    Thanks, as always, for a great post. Tory
    Hi Tory,
    Yes, you would boil the pierogi straight from the freezer. I’d say started checking at 10 minutes for floaters. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  23. Ariana

    I’m a Polish girl so it’s great for me to see our traditional recipe on your amazing blog. Thanks!
    My mother and I have these ‘pierogi Saturdays’ when we meet at her house and make lots of pierogi and at the same time talk and gossip. I’m the designated dough-maker. I make my dough using the simplest recipe ever – I just mix flour with a few spoons sour cream and enough boiling water to make an elastic dough. It’s really quick and you can prepare smaller batches of dough as you go, so it won’t dry out as it tends to happen when you make it in bulk.
    As for the filling, I suggest you add some finely chopped onion fried in butter and lots and lots of black pepper. I also love using cottage cheese or ricotta, because it adds a bit of tang.
    Oh, and try serving with hot bacon fat and crunchy bacon crumbled on top with sauerkraut, apple and carrot slaw on the side.
    Ariana, you had me at “hot bacon fat”. Thanks for sharing. ~ MaryJane

    Follow up- we had the pierogis with shredded cabbage tossed with hot bacon fat last night. It was AMAZING! It’s definitely going on our keepers list. Thanks again! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  24. www.everythingpies.com

    How do you deal with raw eggs in the dough without contaminating your work surfaces and tools?

    I hesitate working with raw eggs in this matter.

    Other than that, I love these cute pies.
    You can certainly use pasteurized eggs if raw egg is a concern. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  25. kittykat3308

    I don’t know if it’s you or if it’s me; but the recipe isn’t printing correctly. I am only getting the first 3 steps in the directions portion of the recipe. The other steps aren’t printing at all.
    Thanks for checking
    Kathleen
    I am not sure why that is happening to you. I just printed it onto 2 sheets. Chose Printable Version up at the top of the recipe. That may help. Also, go to the recipe from our Recipe page and type in pierogi into the search box rather than going through the link in the blog. Send us an email so we can send you the link or we can send you a hard copy. Elisabeth

    Reply
  26. Kwittle@aol.com

    Would the dough recipe work with your gluten free flour?
    Mary Ann Wittle
    Yes, I think this would work as long as you add some xanthan gum to the recipe. Add 1/2 t. xanthan gum per cup of G-F flour. Let us know how it turns out! Elisabeth

    Reply
  27. Becky in GSO

    The dough sounds like a good candidate for bread machine mixing as long as you keep an eye on it and stop when the proper consistency is achieved. (I have a low tolerance for sticky dough.)

    Question: Could you simply freeze the dough and use it later?
    Hi Becky,
    I suppose you could just freeze the dough, but you may lose some of the supple texture during the thawing, so filling before freezing is usually best. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  28. meganchromik

    My aunt makes pierogi every year for Christmas Eve. A few years back she taught my cousin and I how to make them. I’ve made them twice since then, but I keep telling myself I need to make them again. I love making a huge batch, freezing them, and eating them for months afterward sauteed with butter and onions.

    Reply
  29. Audrey

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. My grandmother made the most wonderful pierogies, and though she passed on the recipe, we haven’t (yet) inherited her skill. This recipe is a little different – she used farmer’s cheese instead of cheddar – but the picture made me (and my sister) sigh with pleasure. We’re both looking forward to making these…with the onions and butter, and sour cream, on top.

    Reply
  30. MelissaP

    My grandma made pierogies for her, mom and me. The three of us could eat a triple batch and I have heard stories how great-grandma would make enough to feed the entire family. It was never a holiday thing. We called them puddaha (that is phonetic, I have no idea how to spell it-help from anyone?) and the filling was a dry cottage cheese mixed with egg. She boiled them and then scooped them out of the water and into a pan of butter. Yum! Now, she will sometimes make up a batch and freeze them for me to take home and cook at will.

    Bobalki is our holiday treat. Every holiday meal, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter must have bobalki.
    I know I can Google it, but what’s Bobalki? ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  31. MelissaP

    Golf ball sized (or slightly smaller) rolls that are rinsed with boiling water (after they are baked) and then mixed with sugar (I think many recipes call for honey), poppy seeds and melted butter. My husband likes them even better when they are reheated in a pan and a little toasty.
    That sounds absolutely fabulous! I’m definitely going to have to find a recipe now. Thanks! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  32. LeeB

    I made these over the weekend and they were very easy and very delicious! One problem I encountered was I could have used twice the amount of filling. I used your proportions but ended up with a lot of extra dough.
    I sauteed shallots in butter to caramelize and used that to top the pierogies. Very good! I found another recipe from Russia that said to add bacon to the potatoes and cheese. I may do that next time. The kids are already asking for more.

    Reply
  33. chantellfenner

    For our family, all the women would get together around Christmas, or just after and make a gigantic batch. Cottage cheese and potato, kielbasa and sauerkraut, cottage cheese and raisin, potato and cheese and for the younger siblings, mozarella and spinach were some of the favored fillings. There is no “wrong” way to prepare a pierogi, and with this dish originating in Poland, there has always been a lot of influence from the surrounding countries and ethnic groups.

    Fried in butter and then topping with caramelized onions and some 4% sour cream work very well.

    This year I am working on carrying that same tradition to our family with added girlfriends as we live too far to go “home.” Nanny would be proud!

    I’d love to see a recreation of Halupki (pigs in a blanket) someday.

    Reply
  34. Elizabeth Davidson

    Hi- I am going to be making these today. For the potato filling, can you use mashed potatoes with butter and milk or is it best to use plain potatoes? Thanks for the help!
    I would stick with the plain potatoes so that your filling is the correct consistency. The butter and milk may create too soft a filling. Good luck! -Amy

    Reply
  35. Alice

    For over 30 years, I’ve used a recipe I received in my high school Russian class; that recipe calls for baking the pirogi (“piroski”). What are the advantages of boiling them?

    Cooking the dough by poaching, give a tender/chewy crust. It also prevents the dough from taking up fat during the sauteing. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  36. guppy79

    My husband and I met on a college trip to Poland and were given pirogi and borscht 2 out of the 3 meals a day but never tired of it. It was our comfort food. I made these tonight and he was amazed how authentic they tasted. It was nice to sit and reminisce about our first meeting and meal together. Food has an amazing way to transport you back to different times or places. These pirogi are definite keepers :)

    Have a wonderful holiday!

    Reply
  37. Mrs. Hittle

    We had these pierogi for dinner tonight and they were wonderful. The dough worked so nicely, and the seams didn’t open up (even though i was boiling the water more vigorously than necessary). What i had on hand, cheese-wise, was pepperjack, so i don’t know how Polish that was– but it was tasty. We ate them with fried onions and sour cream. i will definitely keep using this recipe, and have already passed it along once! i did add a bit of salt at the table, though, and i almost never do that. So next time, i’ll either use a stronger-flavoured cheese (this wasn’t the greatest pepperjack), or i’ll add a bit of salt to the filling.

    Reply
  38. myev224

    Is there any way to make Pierogi dough without eggs?

    Our recipe for Pierogi does use eggs and dairy. We haven’t tested recipes without egg, but see there are some recipes on the greater web that are made without eggs. Wishing you well in your quest. Irene @ KAF</strong.

    Reply
  39. pucca

    Can I reuse the scraps to make more pierogies or does the dough get too tough? Thanks

    You could certainly give it a try – the dough might dry out though. I save the “scraps”, dry them out, then add them to brothy soups for texture. Let us know what you do! – kelsey

    Reply
  40. ceecee

    Just got done yesterday making 260 sauerkraut pierogies for xmas and now 6:30am Went into the cabinet to get the flour to start making potato pierogies and my husband bought me the wrong flour – Bread flour! I am freaking out because I usually start at 4:30 in the morning cause I need to make at least 400 potato . my son invites everyone on xmas eve dinner to have pierogies (at present 28 people are coming). Its madness HA HA I try to keep it quiet so no one knows I am making them or I start getting phone calls cause everybody wants them but nobody wants to make them.
    My only hope is my 8 yr old grandson. He has been learning for the last 3 yrs and is actually getting good at it!
    My father n law is polish and there has always been the tradition in his household to have pierogies on Easter. He buys them from a polish bakery in Bridgeport, CT. The story goes, he and his wife tried to make them using his mother’s recipe and it was a total disaster and never again. I made them using the same recipe as a surprise and he was very touched. These are a lot of work so I will be thinking of you! Elisabeth

    Reply
  41. sylive

    I remember the pierogi being baked rather than boiled or sauteed. Is there a different requirement for the making of the dough using this method?
    I think if you had a sauce to bake the pierogi in, you would be just fine. If there isn’t any liquid though, I think they might dry out. ~ MaryJane

    Reply

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