Raviolis + pierogies = raviogis. Get it?!!
Because, you see, even now, a couple days later after this splendid eating experience, I’m still not sure exactly which I made. Being a good grad student, I’ve done some inordinately in depth searching on the difference between pierogies and raviolis (translation: poll my dinner guests and look at about 2 sites on the inter-webs), and I still haven’t come to anything particularly conclusive. My favorite explanation went like this: ”well, one is Italian, and the other is from Eastern Europe. There you go… Oh, and I think pierogies involve more potatoes.” Except that I’ve definitely had raviolis (delicious ones, as a matter of fact) that had a filling of sweet potatoes. So, the boundaries are quite blurry (and I’m afraid they only become more and more so as dinner progresses and you share a nice bottle of wine from a friend in Australia.)
What I do know is this, the other evening I found myself with a really large pile of cheesy mashed sweet and regular potatoes. I don’t quite know what had possessed me to cook so many potatoes. As best as I can figure it out in retrospect, I think I must have been preparing to be under siege for a month or two. But, then instead of pulling up the draw bridge and retreating to the high tower, I got a call from a dear friend asking for a car favor…that involved fancy cheese. As soon as I hear the words “fancy cheese,” I will put down whatever project I am in the middle of and will scramble to grant whatever favor was asked of me or leap into any activity proposed to me. No questions asked. Hmmmm, I kind of wonder if I was hypnotized at some point and that is my trigger phrase. Could be.
But, I digress. A couple days later, I found that I still had cheesy mashed potatoes inconsiderately taking up about 2/3rds of my fridge, and dinner guests coming. Thus was born the Raviogie plan. I had planned to make pierogies a couple of weeks ago for the Daring Cooks challenge, but I found myself separated from my kitchen and unable to do so. However, the idea was still simmering on the back burner of my mind, and I decided to go for it now. With one little hitch. You see, I couldn’t summon the fortitude to make and roll my own pierogie dough. A little late-summer laziness is still clinging to me. So, I switched the plan to ravioli. Not that this meant I was suddenly going to put in the effort to make and roll out that dough either (if I had turned around to discover suddenly that I had a large, beautiful, cool marble countertop and a Nona to help me out, that would have been a different story. Then I would have become a professional pasta maker, right then and there.) But, I had wonton wrappers, and even though they’re cheating if you want to get all technical about it, and they’re not as good as delicious, hearty homemade pasta, they still make for pretty darn good ravioli wrappers.
And they’re so easy!! If you have wonton wrappers around, then any little scraps of vegetables and cheeses, or meat and herbs, or fruits and spices can be turned into raviolis. And so, I stuffed all my massively excessive quantity of potatoes and cheese into wonton wrappers. It filled a lot of wonton wrappers. Don’t worry, I’ve made the recipe I’ll give you to yield a more reasonable amount. But, actually, it doesn’t necessarily matter because they freeze quite nicely (especially if you can layer them with parchment paper and put them in a lovely little box you label “raviogies”).
I think pierogies are often fried after boiling, but not always. Raviolis, generally aren’t, but could be. I decided not to fry mine, but I did make up a creamy mushroom sauce by caramelizing onions, frying mushrooms, and simmering them with a little port and cream at the end. I figured the creaminess of the cream sauce, the earthy umami-ness of the mushrooms, and the sweetness of the onions and port would align nicely with those same flavors in the regular and sweet potatoes and the cheeses. The combination of the raviogies and sauce was delicious! Hardy but not too heavy, complex but also simple enough to taste like a comfort food. I’m finding myself already looking forward to all of those leftovers hidden in the box in the freezer!
Cheesy Sweet Potato and Regular Potato “Raviogies” (serves about 6)
- About ½ pound regular potatoes
- About 1 pound sweet potatoes
- About 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 oz. of soft goat cheese (chevre)
- ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- one package of wonton wrappers
- about 4 Tbs. butter, divided
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- about 4 cups of sliced mushrooms
- 2 Tbs. port or sherry
- a big pour of cream (about ¼ cup)
- salt and pepper to taste
- First, wash (peel if desired) and cut all the potatoes into about 1 inch pieces. Put them in a pot of water, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, then cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft. Drain them, add the cheeses, and mash with a potato masher or handheld electric mixer until they are pretty smooth and the cheeses are completely mixed in. Set aside and allow to cool until it is a temperature you can handle.
- Then, lay out one wonton wrapper at a time, place a marble-sized scoop of potato mixture in the middle of it (I usually overfill them because I get really excited about having lots of filling. This makes them prone to falling apart, but hey, it’s not the end of the world). Dip your fingers in water and moisten the edges of the wonton wrapper square, then fold it in half over the filling to make a triangle shaped dumpling/ravioli/pierogie. Set aside on a large baking sheet (doesn’t hurt to lightly flour it) and continue the procedure until you have used up all the filling.
- In a large frying pan, heat 2 Tbs. of butter over medium heat, add the onions and cook for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat down to low and allow to cook for about 20-30 minutes until quite brown and caramelized. At the same time, in another frying pan over medium-high heat the rest of the butter, add the mushrooms, and cook until they have released all of their moisture and have browned on the outside. Scrape the mushrooms into the pan with the onions. Add the port and the cream, stir well, turn to very low heat and allow to cook a few minutes until thickened.
- While the mushrooms and onions are cooking, you can also bring a large pot of water (with ½ tsp. salt) to a rolling boil. Add the about half of the raviogies and cook for 5 minutes, or for a few minutes past when they float to the top. Remove them with a slotted spoon and put in a serving bowl with a little oil to keep them from sticking. Add the rest to the boiling water and cook in the same way. Serve the raviogies topped with the mushroom sauce. You can make one big bowl of it, or plate the raviogies and put some sauce on each. Oh, and don’t forget to serve a vegetable!