Hello, and welcome to Will It Casserole?, the column where I take delicious concepts and re-imagine them as delicious layered creations. I'm very excited to share this week's project with you, which is so tasty it almost hurts.
Photos by Claire Lower.
So first, let me level with you: A Waffle House casserole actually received the most votes, but after this and this, I was a little hash-browned out. (I know, I didn't think that was possible either.) So instead of making a casserole with shredded potatoes, I made one with mashed potatoes, and I'm not even a little bit sorry.
Said reader JessMariano:
My mom makes an awesome pierogi casserole with lasagna noodles. Very quick and simple hack for when you have a pierogi craving.
Caramelize a ton of onions, make some mashed potatoes. I suppose you could use instant potatoes if you really want a simple hack. Par-cook lasagna noodles, then put multiples layers of the noodles, potatoes, onions, and of course some kind of simple cheese in a casserole dish as you would with lasagna. You could get fancy and add some fresh herbs. Top with the cheese to get that awesome bubbly, crunchiness that comes with a good lasagna. Bake 20-30 min, serve with a horseradish sauce or sour cream, or just dig in straight up.
Using JessMariano's comment as inspiration, I gathered the following to make my pierogi casserole:
- 4 large russet potatoes
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup full cream milk
- 340g of bacon, chopped into 2cm pieces
- 1 1/2 large onions, halved and sliced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 225g of cream cheese
- 10 lasagna noodles
- 170g shredded cheddar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 green onion, chopped
First, I turned my attention to the potatoes. You can make your mashed potatoes however you like, but I chose to employ a pressure cooker. I peeled and chopped the potatoes into chunks, them placed them down in the pot on top of a trivet, with about an 2.5cm of water. Then, using the manual setting, I cooked them for seven minute on high. While that was happening, I got the bacon cooking in a big stainless steel pan.
Once the cooking time had elapsed, I released the pressure manually using the release valve. While the taters were blowing off some steam, I heated the milk in the microwave until it was hot, but not boiling. I then removed the potatoes from the pot, dumped out the water, and returned them to the pot, along with the hot milk and butter. I seasoned them with salt and pepper and beat the heck out of them with a wooden spoon until they were smooth and fluffy.
It was just around that time that the bacon crisped up, so I transferred the crunchy little bits of pork to some paper towels and then -- because I am very smart and good -- I dumped the sliced onions in the bacon grease, and let them hang out until they were nice and caramelised.
Once the onions were done, I set them aside and deglazed the pan with half a cup of white wine. I let that reduce down by about half, and added a block of cream cheese, and pushed that around in the pan until I had what was basically a wine and cream cheese sauce. I cursed myself for not making such a concoction before, then scooped it out of the pan and set it aside. (In retrospect, I should have added prepared horseradish to this beautiful pile of creamy glop, so learn from my mistakes and add a tablespoon or two.)
Finally, I turned my attention to the lasagna noodles. I submerged each one in a pot of boiling, salted water for four minutes, then transferred them to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Then I was ready to layer.
I constructed my cheesy masterpiece, starting with a layer of mashed potatoes and continuing with onions, five noodles, the cream cheese mixture, shredded cheddar and bacon and then repeating it all over again. That went into a 190C oven for 20 minutes, with an extra five minutes of broiling to get that crunchy, bubbly topping.
I topped the glorious pile of cheese and carbs with diced green onion, and ate myself into a state of stupor. It was filling, cheesy, delicious, and just a bit deadly. You could, as JessMariano suggests, serve it with some sour cream, but you really don't need to. I would, however suggest a glass of water, or maybe a green salad, but that's only because I feel obligated to do so.