I have been experiencing some mood issues recently, which isn’t really that unique or surprising. Lots of people are feeling shitty right now, because things are shitty. Both anxiety and depression can affect one’s relationship with food, and my job as a food writer does not exempt me from this.
For me, bad moods manifest as a complete disinterest in cooking for myself, so I order a lot of takeout or shovel cottage cheese into my mouth while standing in front of an open fridge. When I can manage a small amount of cooking, it’s usually heating something from frozen, but even that can seem like too much.
Hilariously (?), waffling things remains completely manageable. It’s quick, requires very little prep work (if any), and the only thing dirtied is the waffle iron itself, and it can usually just be wiped clean. This, coupled with cottage cheese fatigue, is how I came to waffle a box of frozen pierogi.
I will admit that I was not impressed with this particular waffle at first. It looks anemic, tired and uninspired. Unlike most things I have waffled, it does not brown very quickly or well, but dumplings don’t always need golden a crust. I was completely prepared to be underwhelmed by the pierogi waffles, but they were surprisingly delightful. Even though the divots weren’t browned, they were crisped, offering a nice bit of textural contrast. A little bit of the potato filling squished out, but browned mashed potatoes taste pretty good, so that was no great tragedy either.
But — most importantly — I was thrilled by how evenly they cooked. Generally, frozen stuffed delicacies are prone to what I call “the Hot Pocket’s dilemma” — a phenomenon in which the filling is both tooth-chillingly cold and tongue-scorchingly hot at the same time. But the gentle flattening provided by the waffle iron takes care of that: Fresh out of the waffle maker, pierogis are pillowy and warm, but also crunchy in spots — and it only takes a few minutes to get them there.
There’s no need to thaw the pierogi first — just toss a couple in straight from the freezer. Set your waffle maker to medium-high, then gently close the plates, letting the top one rest on the pierogi. After about 30 seconds, give it a gentle press, and repeat until the waffle maker is about a half-inch from fully closed. Let the pierogi cook until there are clearly defined square divots on the surface. A little filling may squish out; that’s ok, because you like those lacy little browned bits of filling. Once you start to see a touch of browning, go ahead and remove your dumplings, then dip them in sour cream or curry ketchup, which will be lovingly cradled by those telltale waffle-y divots. Those divots really are so important.