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Polish Pie Pierogi Bake

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I considered opening this post with a Polish joke. You know, something along the lines of An Irishman, a German, and a Polish man walk into a bar… But, comedy is not my strong suit and I can never quite remember the punchline to jokes. Or, I remember only the punchline, but haven’t the foggiest idea of how to get there. Watching me try to tell a joke is often the funniest part of the joke I’m trying to tell. Either way, it’s probably better that I stick to the food and leaves the jokes to the jokers.

My Polish Pie is not really a pie at all, no more so than a shepherd’s pie or a cottage pie qualifies as pie. But the name just seems to fit. The idea first struck me a few weekends ago, when we drove past a local Polish festival. As we waited at the stoplight, tapping our feet to the catchy tunes of a live polka band, the distinct aroma of kielbasa flooded our car. My husband made some quip about pierogies and kielbasa.

MmmmmmPierogies!!

And in that moment, an idea began to take shape. Why couldn’t I create a baked pierogi dish, starting with frozen pierogies, in the same way that people make baked ravioli casseroles? Seemed like it should work. And it seemed only logical that the dish should include slices of kielbasa. I decided on sweet, caramelized onions and a rich cheddar cheese sauce to complete the dish.

This is not a pretty dish. It’s got that sort of sloppy, mixed up appearance that most casseroles end up having. (I think I’m going to skip the photo I took of it spooned onto my dinner plate.) But, what it lacks in appearance, it more than makes up for with flavor. Best yet, you can use leftover kielbasa and caramelized onions to make the most fantastic frittata!

Polish Pie Pierogi Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 box frozen potato and cheddar pierogies
  • 1/2 Polish kielbasa, halved and sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray the inside of a baking dish (9×13 or smaller) with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the dish with the frozen pierogies.

To prepare the onions, heat one tablespoon of butter in pan over medium heat. Add the onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender, sweet, and golden brown. Scatter the onions over the frozen pierogies.

Scatter the kielbasa slices over the onions.

To prepare the sauce, melt the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour until well-blended. Cook for a minute or two. (This is your roux, which will help to thicken the sauce.) Gradually add the milk, whisking until smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until it begins to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and add the cheddar cheese. Stir until melted. Season with a touch of salt and pepper. (Be careful not to over-salt the sauce, since the kielbasa will add a good amount of salty flavor to the finished dish.)

Pour the sauce over the mixture in the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for about 40 minutes.

Kielbasa and Caramelized Onion Frittata

Bonus recipe for leftover kielbasa and caramelized onions:

Kielbasa and Onion Frittata

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly beat 7-8 eggs in a bowl with about 1/4 cup milk. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon of butter in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Swirl the pan so that the butter coats the bottom and sides. Add the eggs to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the bottom begins to set. The top should still be quite loose. Scatter leftover slices of kielbasa and caramelized onions into the egg mixture. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the eggs have completely set and the top is golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

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**Top Secret Family Recipe**

There’s something special about secret family recipes. I’d be willing to bet that every family has got at least one. They are the recipes which are passed on from one generation to the next, the recipes which are prepared on special occasions, the recipes which make you think of home. Perhaps it’s a certain cookie recipe which is baked every Christmas; the one all of your friends and neighbors look forward to. Maybe it’s a special blend of spices which makes your chili stand out. Or it might be a Strawberry-Rhubard Pie which won your Great Aunt Ethel the grand prize at a state fair back in 1920. Whatever it is, these family recipes hold a special worth. They evoke memories and a family pride, which contribute an immeasurable level of value to an otherwise ordinary recipe.

Some families guard their secret recipes with their lives, much like Colonel Sanders guards his secret blend of herbs and spices or Spongebob protects the secret crabby-patty ingredient. Try asking for the recipe and they evade your request, changing topics or vaguely agreeing to send it to you at some unspecified future time. Or perhaps they agree to share the recipe, but it’s done in a whisper, as if Great-Great-Grandma Jones is going to rise from her grave at any moment. Secret family recipes are a special sort of recipe.

As you may expect, my family has its own share of secret recipes. The one which I most strongly associate with home is my dad’s recipe for Connecticut Supper. It’s been my dad’s signature recipe for as long as I can remember. Even now, when we go home for a visit, my dad eagerly prepares Connecticut Supper or he retrieves a tin from the freezer, saved for that very occasion. Either way, it’s almost always waiting for us. It feels like home.

My dad can’t recall the exact origin of the recipe, though he’s pretty sure it was originally found in an old Betty Crocker cookbook circa 1970’s, or something of the like. As far as the name, there is no explanation for that either. It is what it is; Connecticut Supper. And Connecticut Supper is a beefy, cheesy, potato-laden casserole which is pure cold-weather comfort food. This is a Sunday dinner type of meal; a one-dish meal, bubbly hot out of the oven and perfect for a crowd.

Now, we’re all friends here, so I’m going to trust you with my family secret. This is just between us. Shhhh…

**CONFIDENTIAL**

Connecticut Supper

Ingredients

  • 2 large Onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 pounds Stew Beef, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 cups Mushrooms, sliced*
  • 2-3 Potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 10 ounce bar of Sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup Wheaties, crushed

*My dad recommends finding your mushrooms at the grocery store, not from your lawn.

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5-7 minutes until the onions are tender and lightly browned. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the onions. Cook for a few minutes, until the beef is lightly browned. Pour the water over the mixture. Cover and gently simmer for about 50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the beef, onions, and cooking liquid into a large (13×9) baking dish. Arrange the mushroom slices in an even layer over the beef. Arrange the potatoes in an even layer over the mushrooms. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, and milk. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the mixture over the potatoes. Top with cheddar cheese, then crushed Wheaties. Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

**CONFIDENTIAL**

This blog post will self-destruct upon reading.


What’s your family’s secret recipe? Will you share it with me?

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