Eric Akis: Fine food for football fans

With a nod to Edmonton and its Ukrainian heritage, perogies and sausage is the right dish for Grey Cup day

Eric Akis

The Grey Cup is on Sunday and if you’re hosting a game-watching party, you’ll want to have some food to go with those cold beverages you’ll be pouring.

If you’re not sure what to make, I have a tasty idea. With the game being held in Edmonton, home to a large population of folks with Ukrainian heritage, dish up two things you’ll definitely find served in that city: perogies and sausage.

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There are a few steps required to make my potato, cheese and green onion perogies, but the work will go more rapidly if you have a friend or spouse helping out with the preparation. Also, the good news is, you can get the perogies oven-ready up to a day before serving them.

I say oven-ready, because to allow you to serve the perogies in a casual, help yourself kind of way, after you boil and cool them, you bake them on sheet pans until light golden and piping hot. Slices of Ukrainian-style or other garlicky sausage are also baked on the sheet pans. And to make the perogies even more cheesy rich and oniony, they’re topped with grated cheese and sliced green onion during and after baking.

Although they won’t be as good as homemade, if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own perogies, I’ve also given you the option to use store-bought ones.

Sheet Pan Perogies and Sausage

Two pans of cheese-rich perogies and sliced sausage, baked until hot and delicious, then served with sour cream.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 to 22 minutes

Makes: eight (five perogies each) servings

1 Tbsp butter

1 medium to large onion, halved and thinly sliced

• two sheet pans of prepared perogies (see Cheese and Green Onion Perogies recipe below, and Eric’s options)

1 (300 to 375 grams) ring or chunk of Ukrainian-style sausage, garlic sausage or kielbasa, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices

100 grams old cheddar cheese, grated

3 green onions, thinly sliced

• sour cream, to taste

Melt butter in a skillet set over medium heat. And the sliced onion and cook and stir until tender, about five to six minutes. Remove pan from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Set the slices of sausage on, under and around the perogies on each baking sheet. Now set the cooked onions on and around the perogies on each baking sheet.

Bake perogies 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with grated cheese. Set perogies back in the oven and bake five to seven minutes more, until they are piping hot and light golden, and the cheese is melted.

Sprinkle perogies with the sliced green onion, then serve with sour cream, for dolloping along side portions of them.

Eric’s options: If you don’t feel like making your own perogies, this recipe could be made with 40 frozen, store-bought ones. Boil them as per package directions, set them on the buttered sheet pans as described in the potato, cheese and green onion perogies recipe, then top and bake them as described above.

Potato, Cheese and Green Onion Perogies

These tender perogies are stuffed with mashed yellow-fleshed potatoes, two types of cheese and bits of green onion. When boiled and divided between two sheet pans, they’ll be ready to use in the sheet pan perogies and sausage recipe.

Preparation time: One hour, plus resting time

Cooking time: About one hour

Makes: 40 perogies (see Note)

For the filling

1 3/4 lbs. yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/4 cup firm cream cheese, at room temperature

100 grams old cheddar cheese, grated

2 green onions, finely chopped (see Note 1)

• salt and white pepper, to taste

Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water by at least two inches and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook the potatoes until very tender, 18 to 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes well. Very thoroughly mash until smooth as possible. Add cream cheese and cheddar and mix until cheeses are melted and well combined with the potatoes. Mix in the green onion. Transfer potato filling to a shallow bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate filling until needed. It can be made up to a day in advance.

For the dough and to make perogies

1 large egg

1 cup lukewarm (not hot) water

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp salt, plus more cooking

3 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (divided), plus more for shaping, rolling and cutting

1/4 cup butter, melted (divided)

Place egg in a large bowl and beat well. Add the water, oil and 1 tsp salt and whisk to combine. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour to the bowl and mix until wet, loose dough forms.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour on a work surface. Scrape and turn the dough onto the work surface. Sprinkle top of dough with 1/4 cup flour. Knead in the flour on and under the dough, until all is incorporated and you have a ball of dough that’s soft, but no longer sticky to the touch. If dough is still sticky, knead in a bit more flour.

Cut dough in half. Press each half piece into a thick disc. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature 30 minutes to relax the gluten.

When ready to make perogies, line a very large baking sheet (mine was 18-by-13-inches), or other large, shallow pan, with parchment paper. Set one piece of dough on lightly floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a circle that’s about 14 inches round and 1/8 inch thick. Use a three-inch cutter to cut dough into rounds.

Set 2 tsp of the filling, shaped into an oblong, walnut shape, in the centre of each round of dough. Fold the dough over the filling and firmly press the edges together. Set the sealed perogies on the parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, ensuring they do not touch.

Roll, cut, fill and make perogies with the second dough as you did the first. Also, form the scraps of dough into a ball, rest a few minutes, then roll, cut into rounds, fill and make perogies with it, too (see Note 2).

Bring a very large, wide pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Line two medium-sized baking sheets with parchment paper (mine were 16-by-11-inches in size). Spoon and spread 2 Tbsp of melted butter on the paper on each baking sheet.

Boil perogies eight or so at a time, gently stirring occasionally, for four to five minutes, until the dough is cooked and perogies float. Lift cooked perogies out with a slotted spoon, drain well and set them on the baking sheets as you go along. When done cooking them, turn each perogy over so both sides are lightly coated with butter. Also ensure each baking sheet has an equal amount of perogies on it.

Let perogies cool, then refrigerate until ready to use in the sheet pan perogies and sausage recipe above (see Eric’s options).

Note 1: To finely chop the green onions, cut them lengthwise into thin strips, then thinly slice them, widthwise, into tiny pieces.

Note 2: You may end up with slightly more, or less, than 40 perogies, depending on how thinly you roll the dough. Any leftover perogy filling can be fried up, plated and topped with poached eggs for breakfast.

Eric’s options: You can boil the perogies, set them on the sheet pans, cool them, tent with plastic wrap and refrigerate them up to a day before topping and baking them as described in the sheet pan perogies and sausage recipe.

If you only need one sheet pan of perogies, freeze the other sheet of them, to thaw, top and bake at another time.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks, including seven in his Everyone Can Cook series. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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