Everyone's got that meal that they tend to eat when what they need is comfort from the stomach on out. I've heard any number of things...Cream of Wheat, mac and cheese is a perennial favorite, assorted soups, and so on. It's the food you make when you're not creating an elaborate meal for friends, and are fully prepared to don some pants with an elastic waistband. Garnishes and other fripperies don't even enter the equation for meals such as these...you're not cooking for your eyes, here.
For me, the hands down winner in this category is pierogies. A traditional Eastern European dish, made in my hometown by church basements of Ukrainian women, this is the penultimate soul food. If you're hardcore, have a lot of time and an army of friends who get their jollies making many little stuffed dumplings, you can go right ahead and make these beasties from scratch. If this doesn't quite fit your schedule, you can cruise straight to the freezer section of your grocery store and grab a box of them. (Somewhere, an angry grandmother is waving a ladle at me in indignation, and I do apologize, but some things have to be ceded in the interests of eating before 2 am.)
I've noticed a growing variety of pierogies, including some filled with feta and spinach and heaven only knows what else. This, in my eyes, is sheer blasphemy. For purists, only mashed potatoes and cheese belong in them...leniency is granted to what you put on top of them upon completion, but until then...dogmatic dumplings, dammit!
Anyway...I was coming off a long week of work, and the previous weekend was far more social and culinarily planned out than usual, so today was Happy Hermit Day. (I've only got so much being nice a week in me, and I had peaked by about, oh, Wednesday.) I didn't want to pair wines and plot side dishes...I wanted something with a fat content that would make a doctor cringe. And the way I do pierogies, that is DEFINITELY the end result.
I'm not even going to pretend that what follows is a recipe for a meal, but it is, for me at least, a recipe for a soothed soul.
Pierogies for One
- 6 frozen pierogies (such as Mrs. T's)
- irresponsible amount of bacon (1/2 pound works for me)
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced in half moons
- sour cream to dollop
- Put a large pot of water on to boil. While waiting for this to happen;
- Heat a large skillet, and put in a LOT of bacon. Start frying it.
- Put pierogies in boiling water for about 5 minutes. You're only thawing them, here. They'll bob up in the pot when they're well warmed. Drain.
- Put cooked bacon on a paper towel-lined plate.
- In skillet with bacon drippings, put the boiled pierogies and sliced onion. Fry, turning pierogies over occasionally, until onions are sauteed nicely and pierogies are golden and have a nice crispness to the exterior.
- Crumble bacon over the onions and pierogies, glop on some sour cream, and tuck in.
While a wine pairing for this is utterly out of the question, if you're hell bent on sticking to a regional theme, vodka is the way to go, here.
Now relax, stretch out on the couch, and feel like maybe, just maybe, you can interact with other humans again sometime soon...maybe tomorrow.