Monday, June 20, 2016

Pierogi Lasagna

Do you like pierogis? Pasta stuffed with potatoes and cheese and served with sour cream and caramelized onions.. that has my name written ALL over it! And then I saw a video about a pierogi LASAGNA. My first thought was "OMG what a fabulous idea! Why have I never thought of this??" and then I quickly jumped to"YES I'll definitely be making this. Like, soon!"
 If you think about it, it's really kind of brilliant in its simplicity. It's all the same ingredients as pierogis, but they're just assembled differently. Cool, huh? I didn't even follow a recipe, tbh. I mean I know how to make mashed potatoes and caramelized onions. The rest is just assembling your layers and baking it until golden and bubbly. Easy! If this isn't comfort food, then I don't know what is. Or as my fabulous friend Casey would say "classic Joey Quaile shenanigans!"
 So if you like pierogis, you simply MUST try this.
I absolutely PROMISE you will love it!

4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
2 sticks butter
1-2 cups milk
5 large Vidalia or other sweet onions, peeled
3-4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lb lasagna noodles
S&P to taste
Sour cream and chopped scallions for serving

Heat oven to 350ºF.
Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water over high heat. Bring the potatoes to a boil until they are fork tender. Drain and place back in the pot. Add one stick of butter, milk, and S&P. Hand mash until mostly smooth, but still a little chunky. Set aside.
While the potatoes are boiling, slice the onions pole to pole. Place the onion halves cut side down, then slice across the grain making half rings. Place the other stick of butter into a large pot over medium heat to melt. Add onion slices and slowly saute until they begin to caramelize. Take your time with this step. You really want this to go low and slow for a good 20 minutes or more.
Fill a large shallow pan with very HOT water, and place your lasagna noodles to soak for a bit until they begin to soften.
Now all of your components are ready and it's time to assemble.
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Place some of the onions on the bottom in an even layer.
Place 1/3 of the noodles over the onions making sure to overlap the edges, spread 1/3 of the mashed potatoes over the noodles, then a layer of onions, then a layer of cheese.
Do this two more times.
Spray the underside of a piece of foil with baking spray and cover the lasagna. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let it rest for a good 15 minutes before you slice into squares. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped chives or scallions.

Ok here's my best tip when it comes to making any lasagna: when you layer your noodles, don't always do the layers in the same direction. So, like, if your first layer of noodles is horizontal or longways in the pan, then place your second layer in opposite direction going crossways or vertically, and then go back to layering them horizontally again for the third layer. You'll probably have to cut the noodles in order to fit them vertically, but that's not a big deal. Why do I do this? Because it makes the layers lock together and then you'll wind up with squares of lasagna that hold their shape, instead of having the top half sliding off. Clever, right? And yes, that's correct, I never boil my noodles before assembling the lasagna. I just soak them in very hot water to soften for a bit. The baking will cook them the rest of the way, and then you won't wind up with mushy overcooked noodles.
This is a great do-ahead dish because it will set up nicely as it sits. It also reheats very well, and it freezes beautifully.
The best way to make sure your final product will be well seasoned is to taste and adjust each component as you go. When you mash the potatoes, be sure you use enough salt and pepper. (It will require more salt than you think it will!) Same with the onions, taste as you go to make sure they're properly seasoned.
And don't forget, when you caramelize the onions, let them go for a good long time until they cook down and become sweet and almost creamy in the melted butter.
I've seen some recipes where they say not to add any milk to the mashed potatoes. For me, not only do I like to add the milk, but I like to add a LOT of milk, just to make the potatoes light and fluffy. Otherwise the lasagna is just gonna be much too heavy. Add enough to reach your desired consistency. Then again, if you prefer your potatoes without milk, just omit it altogether!
Like a lot of onions or cheese? Add as much as you want! Want to vary the recipe a little? Add whatever you like! Maybe add some crisped bacon to each layer? Yes please!

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