Cast Iron Makes a Huge Difference

I got some church lady pierogies this week and brought them home to cook.  I always cook lots of vegetables to go with them.  This week, it was onions, garlic, mushrooms, hot pepper, and bell peppers.  My copper-bottomed stainless steel was out and handy, so I used it.

I got about halfway through adding the vegetables into the pan and realized that it was getting a bit crowded, so I grabbed my ceramic-lined cast iron off of the pot rack (the only cast iron that hangs—the rest sit in the cupboard being so heavy that they’ve bowed the cupboard floor.  Whenever we get around to redoing the kitchen, we’re going to have to install a specially reinforced cupboard with custom-built organizational slots to accommodate my collection).  I fired up the heat under that pan and transferred about half of what was in the stainless pan to the new one once it got hot.

Even though my stainless pan was over the so-called ‘power burner’ on my stove, and even though I actually had more gas burning under it than I did my cast iron pan, the vegetables in the stainless pan were cooking but not taking on any color while the ones in the cast iron pan were taking on a beautiful caramel hue.  I wound up doing multiple transfers/ retransfers between the two pans to get all of the veg to caramleize properly.

My Standard Pierogie Vegetable Mix Recipe

Slice onions, garlic, mushrooms and peppers.  Add about a half stick of butter to a hot pan.  Once it has mostly melted, put the onions into the pan along with a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste.  Cook over mediumish heat, stirring about once a minute.  Once the onions have softened and are starting to brown, add the garlic.  Cook for 1-3 minutes until it starts to brown.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have shrunk and taken on some color.  (if your pan is getting too full, divide between two pans).  Add the peppers and cook until they have softened.

One-pan instructions

Remove the cooked vegetables to a plate to hold.  Add the other half stick of butter to the pan.  Brown the pierogies in the butter, flipping just once.  When the pierogies have browned, return the vegetables tot he pan.  optional: Add chicken or vegetable stock and reduce over high heat to a sauce.

Two-pan instructions:

Put all of the vegetables in one of the pans.  Add chicken stock and reduce over medium-high heat to a sauce.  Meanwhile, add the other half stick of butter to the now-empty pan.  Brown the pierogies in here, flipping only once.  When they are browned, transfer them to the vegetable-filled pan, arranging them in an attractive radiating star pattern across the top of the pan for family-style service.

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