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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Perogy Casserole


The first time I tasted perogies was at my friend, Cheryl's house.  Our family was invited to their home for dinner and homemade perogies were on the menu.  I knew I'd love them before I even tasted them because they were filled with potatoes and cheddar cheese, fried in butter and served with onions and sour cream.  Oh, my, what's not to like?  Don, on the other hand, referred to them as "those slimy things" and never really warmed up to them for many a meal.  He likes them now and actually eats them without any undue stress.

Perogies are of central and eastern European origin.  I'm thankful the immigrants from these countries bought this tasty food to Canada many years ago.  Each country seems to have slight differences in the recipe and the spelling of the word "perogy" but they are all basically the same and now that they are an established Canadian food we have also added our twist to the recipe and love Cheddar cheese in our filling.    My friend Cheryl is of Lithuanian ancestry and that may have been why we indulged in these tasty little pockets of goodness that dinnertime so many years ago.  

Homemade perogies are far superior to the frozen variety found in most supermarket freezers but the homemade ones are time consuming to make and a certain amount of skill is needed to fill and seal the dough around the potato filling.  Over the years I have made hundreds and hundreds of perogies so I know of what I speak.  And then, once you take the time to make those delectable little dumplings, everyone gobbles them down so quickly that all your hard work disappears in a matter of minutes.  You'd think a few minutes of gazing on the finished product would be in order after all that hard work!  

Ah, well, I'll probably still make homemade perogies once in a while but this casserole hits the spot, especially if serving to a hoard of hungry diners unaware of the work that goes into a homemade perogy (those who believe the perogy fairies make them by magic).  The filling is the same as a potato and cheese perogy and the lasagna noodles do a good job at pretending to be perogy dough.

I clipped this recipe from a newspaper and have been making it for buffet and church dinners and the like for years.  It is always well received and I have been asked for the recipe over and over again.  (Now, I'll just refer them to this blog, hahaha!) The casserole goes together quickly, especially after the potatoes and onions are prepared.  DO NOT use pre-cooked noodles.  Use the regular lasagna noodles that have to be boiled.  If making this for a potluck or similar meal, it can be made a day or two in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to bake. 


Perogy Casserole

Cook about 6 to 8 lasagna noodles.  While noodles are cooking make filling.

Filling:   
8 medium potatoes cooked, and mashed
¼ cup milk       
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup butter (can use less)
½ pound cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 ½ cups shredded or half a 500 gram block)
Salt and pepper to taste

To the mashed potatoes, add the milk, sour cream and butter.  Mix until well combined and creamy.  Mix in the shredded cheese.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.

Topping:
Sauté in margarine or oil
3-4 onions, chopped (about 3-4 cups)
        
Put casserole together as follows:

Layer in a well buttered 9"x13" dish, starting at the bottom and going up (see diagram):
  • noodles (bottom)
  • potato filling (middle)
  • noodles (top)
  • sautéed onions (topping)
  • ¼ cup of simulated bacon bits (optional topping)
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for ½ hour or until hot through.  Serve with sour cream and bacon bits.  

You can mix some of the fried onion in with the potato filling also, if you wish.
        
To make the filling:  Boil the potatoes, drain and mash with milk, butter and sour cream.   Add the shredded cheese and mix until smooth and creamy.  You may add a few sautéed onions to the mixture if you wish. (I've had this potato masher since I was married and if anything happens to it, I'll go into mourning.  That masher fits my hand perfectly and I've never found another one that is as good.)

I love onions, so I always have loads on top of the casserole.  You may, of course, use less, but I ask, "Why would you want less?"  I like the onions sautéed until clear and soft.  You can caramelize the onions as well.  Either way will be delicious.

Put the casserole together:  Place a layer of noodles on the bottom of a well-buttered 9"x13" dish and top with potato/cheese filling.  Then add the second layer of noodles.  Top with the simulated bacon bits and the sautéed onions.  The casserole is now ready to bake or refrigerate for a day or two until ready to be baked.  (I have used a miniature lasagna noodle called "Mafaldine" because I had a large case given me and I'm using them every way possible. It's the same as regular noodles but skinnier.)

 Serve the Perogy Casserole with sour cream and bacon bits.   
A side of baked beans and coleslaw go well with this casserole.

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