Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mushroom Goulash with Pierogi

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – June 2010
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Every Day with Rachael Ray, April 2010.

First, let me say that I’m not a chef.  I may be able to cook and tweak a recipe, but I can’t create dishes.  Not only do I not have the knowledge, but I just don’t have the time or money to play around with different types of ingredients.  The reason I bring this up is about eight months ago, my husband told me he wanted to start eating more vegetarian food.  This did not make me very happy, but not because I didn’t think it was a healthy move or I hate vegetables.  No, I wasn’t happy because I rarely find a vegetarian dish that sounds appetizing to me and I don’t know how to substitute veggies in where meat should be.  I searched around in my endless number of e-mails and magazines and found this delightful dish that uses mushrooms as a meat substitute.  Now I am addicted to cooking with mushrooms and this is one of the very few recipes that I make on a regular basis.

My finished product:

Picture published with recipe:

©Every Day with Rachael Ray

My goulash has a little more “sauciness” to it and I always seem to find jumbo pierogi.  This is one of the most savory vegetarian dishes I’ve ever eaten.  It tastes as good as it looks!  Yes, I have made my own pierogi in the past, but although pierogi isn’t hard to make, it is ridiculously time consuming.  When I’m looking for a weeknight meal, homemade pierogi isn’t in the cards.
for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen's Rating System
Mess:  SIGH – you have a lot of different cooking mediums and sometimes the pierogi can break open & cause a mess.  Also, you have a sauté situation going on, which always seems to make a bigger mess on the stove.

Start-to-Finish Time: About an hour – this is one of Rachael Ray’s “30 Minute Meals”.  Uh, no way.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – some tedious chopping, but if you don’t buy pre-sliced mushrooms bump that baby up to a solid LOSS OF FINGER POSSIBLE.  Another note:  holy crap there are a lot of ingredients!

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – no difficult ingredients but timing the pierogi boiling and moving to sauté pan took several times before I had the technique down pat.

Overall:  SORRY HONEY, NO LEFTOVERS – Seeing that I try different recipes every week, I rarely make the same dish twice unless requested or so easy that I can do it in a pinch.  This one is on a regular rotation as an “old stand by”.

Recipe Information:
Total Time: 30 min
Serves: 4

Nutritional Information:
Rachael Ray is notorious for not listing her nutritional information on her recipes.  Her mantra is “eat in moderation.”  I follow the same mantra – you should be able to enjoy a gooey dessert or butter-based sauce every once in a while – but you need to be armed with good nutritional information so you know what is an indulgence and what is a healthy dish.  Remember, even vegetarian dishes can be high in calories or have large amounts of sodium in them, especially when you’re sautéing them in butter.

I would say “four servings” is fairly accurate, although we usually can stretch it to six when pairing with a salad and piece of crusty wheat baguette.

Changes denoted by red text

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound Portobello mushrooms, chopped
½ pound white mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
A few dashes hot pepper sauce
2 cups vegetable stock
1 pound frozen potato pierogi
2 tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons freeze-dried chives
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
Non-fat Sour cream, for serving

Ingredient Notes:
Olive Oil – should you use your really expensive extra-virgin olive oil or not.  Since it is not the focus of the dish and is used as a cooking medium, don’t waste your good olive oil stash.  The cheap(er) stuff works just fine.

Portobello & White Mushrooms
  • The original recipe called for 1 pound of cremini mushrooms which are similar to white mushrooms but more flavorful.  I substituted half pound white mushrooms and half pound Portobello mushrooms to switch things up.
  • Save yourself some time by buying pre-sliced mushrooms.  I didn’t chop them any further, either.  I left them in “sliced form”.

Garlic – the original called for chopped garlic, but since it isn’t the focus of the dish, the pre-minced you find in the vegetable section of your grocery store worked just fine.  Saves time and mess.

Paprika – the original recipe called for smoked sweet paprika, which I had some trouble finding.  I ended up using regular paprika and it still tasted delicious.

Marjoram – the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of fresh marjoram, but another item that I had difficulty finding in the produce section.  I substituted dried for fresh in the ration of 1 tablespoon fresh = 1 teaspoon dried (1:4 ratio).

Hot Pepper Sauce – the original recipe a “few dashes of hot pepper sauce” to give some spice to the dish; however, I felt the paprika gave it all the kick it needed.  My husband, who enjoys a little more spice, was able to add his favorite hot sauce after the fact.

Potato Pierogi – the last time I made this dish, I bought half potato and half cheese.  Still incredibly tasty and vegetarian.

Chives – this recipe called for three tablespoons of fresh chives.  One time, while wandering around in the spice aisle, I found freeze-dried chives touted to be as good as fresh.  I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try.  They really were!  Of course, I didn’t need 3 tablespoons – 3 teaspoons was enough.

Dill – this dish was supposed to have fresh dill tossed with the pierogi.  I like dill, but between the paprika in the goulash and the chives on the pierogi, it was too much.  The second time I made it; I left the dill out and thought it was still delicious.

Sour Cream
  • The original recipe used regular sour cream for the top of the dish, but I used a no-fat sour cream instead to help cut calories and fat.  Tasted just fine.
  • I read today that you can use no-fat Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream.  If anyone give this a try, let me know!

Equipment Needed:
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Dutch oven
Large spoon
Large bowl
Large pot or pasta pot
Wooden spoon
Slotted spoon
Large skillet
Flexible spatula

Equipment Notes:
Dutch Oven – originally it said to cook the goulash in a large skillet, but unless you have a large skillet that is also deep, use a Dutch Oven or a large pot.

Flexible Spatula – ordinarily I would say you could sauté with a large spoon, but the pierogi is kind of delicate so the spatula is a better choice.

(1) In a dutch oven, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes; transfer to a bowl.  The mushrooms will take on a shriveled look and the liquid released will start to foam a little.  That is when you’ll know they are done.

(2) Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, paprika, marjoram and coriander to the pan; season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the vegetables are softened, 5 minutes.  Stir often so the garlic doesn’t burn.

(3) Stir in the cooked mushrooms, the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste for 1 minute.  The tomato paste will get thick quickly so do not leave it unattended and continue stirring.

(4) Add the vegetable stock and cook until thickened, about 15 minutesThe recipe said 5 minutes, but I’ve made this several times and have never gotten it to thicken that quickly.  It usually takes about 15 minutes, but I’ll leave it on low to continue cooking while I prepare the pierogi.

(5) Heat a large skillet over medium heat and bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water (if desired), add half the pierogi and boil until they float, 7 to 8 minutes. The current school of thought is that salting the water does not affect the sodium content of the dish & improves the flavor of the food being cooked.  I usually do not salt my water & feel there is plenty of flavor in my dishes, but it is a personal preference.  Remove with slotted spoon into a colander.  Be careful because sometimes the pierogi can be delicate and tear.

(6) While the pierogi water is returning to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the skillet to melt, then add the pierogi and cook until lightly browned.  Gently remove from pan to a plate.

(7) Repeat the steps with the remaining pierogi and butter.  Return all pierogi to the pan.  The reason we split the pierogi into two groups is to make sautéing them easier.  We need them all to be together to season and toss them.

(8) Sprinkle the pierogi with the chives, season with salt and pepper and gently stir. Serve the goulash and pierogi in shallow bowls with a dollop of sour cream.

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