Lucky numbers

31 01 2011

See, in this year’s Super Bowl the Green Bay Packers are trying to win their 13th NFL championship, while the Pittsburgh Steelers are trying to win their 7th.  Get it?  Lucky Numbers?  Oh, never mind.

For reference, My previous Super Bowl picking posts (all correct) can be found by clicking here and here and here.  I will say thank you to my one fan, Jes, who asked me a couple weeks ago when I was going to be writing this post.

For three years I’ve correctly picked the winner of the Super Bowl merely by cooking a dish from that city.  Manhattan clam chowder predicted the Giants to beat the Patriots, Jambalaya produced a win for New Orleans last year, and in Super Bowl XLIII Tandoori chicken was the difference with my Pittsburgh Steelers.  Only that’s not really Pittsburgh food, is it?  Sadly, no (although it would be nice).  Thankfully the Black and Gold have seen fit to offer me a second chance, and I shall take up the mantle with pride.

The rules for these posts are simple.  I pick a dish I’ve never made before based solely on what I feel like cooking.  I assume the role of my chosen city’s star player, and as it goes for my dish it goes for their team.  And when all else fails I never pick against the Steelers.  Honestly I could have made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for this post and said “Wow!  That was great!  Steelers win.”  But that’s not as much fun.  Instead, I shall be making pierogies.

In bold letters you will find the progress of the game based upon the progress of the meal.  Following this is the explanation of my cooking, step by step.  And lots of pictures.  This year I will be taking the role of coach Mike Tomlin, since he is by far my favorite person on the Rooney’s payroll.  Besides, we’re the same age and, yes, I wish I was him sometimes.

WEEK OFF: The coaches do their research, studying their opponent looking for a weakness.
I searched extensively for a recipe (I googled it), and I found a food blogger from Pittsburgh (Hooray!) who had a recipe and great photos of its results.  Go visit the Brown Eyed Baker and tell Michelle I said hello.  Here’s a link to the recipe:

Homemade Pierogi from the Brown Eyed Baker

SUPER BOWL WEEK: The Steelers arrive in Dallas and get worked over by the press.  They hold together, but it’s ugly.
It’s my blog, I pick the metaphors, got it?  Anyway, step one was to mix the dough.  It was a multi-step process but the longest part (and the hardest to know if I was doing it right) was “working the dough until it loses most of it stickiness.”  I have no idea what that means, but here it is:

Karen asked me “Is it supposed to be that dry?”  How should I know?  I’ve never made a dough remotely like this before.  I put it in the fridge and let it sit overnight.

GAME TIME!  The Steelers win the coin toss and kick off.  They feature a strong running game on offense.
See, I was going to cook this meal on Sunday like I normally do, but Karen was already making something.  I decide Monday is best.  Besides, Karen wanted me to make some chicken-corn soup on Monday anyway and I thought it would go great with my pierogies.  I am also very good at making soup.

FIRST QUARTER: The Defense shows up big.  The whole team rallies.  Tomlin tweaks the game plan.
This was too easy.  The bacon is Casey Hampton.  It was actually between him and Flozell Adams.  From everything I’ve read you can put as many embellishments as you want in the filling, so although it wasn’t in the recipe I know very well that bacon makes everything better.

And if Casey Hampton is the Bacon then James Harrison is the onions.  This was my first deviation from the recipe.  It calls to saute the onions in butter, but all that wonderful bacon grease was already in the pan, so I used that instead.  I’m a genius.

FIRST QUARTER: The offense moves the ball at will against the Packers’ defense, but it’s still not pretty.
Shredding the cheese.  This I couldn’t pass up.  And yes, it’s a terrible metaphor but I don’t care.  When I was at the store I saw this beautiful Wisconsin Colby-Jack and exclaimed “MWUAHAHAHAHA!”  But as it turns out, this step isn’t really negotiable anyway.  You do want delicious pierogies, right?

After shredding the cheese and boiling the potatoes I mash everything together.  Also, I forgot to mention that I chopped up some chives for the filling as well.  Karen didn’t think I should post a picture of the filling at this stage because it didn’t look very appetizing in this state.  Whatever.

SECOND QUARTER: A substitute makes a huge difference in the game, but the Packers’ defense holds.
I took the dough out of the fridge, rolled it out, and cut out the rounds.  At this point Jonathan came in the kitchen and asked to help.  So I put the filling on each round and showed him how to moisten the edges and fold them in half.  It actually makes the work go faster so I was happy.  Jonathan will therefore play the part of Doug Legursky, playing center for the Steelers due to the injury to the usual starter, Maurkice Pouncey.

At this point I started worrying about my metaphors.  The filling was smelling very good, and I knew it was because of the cheese.  If the cheese was the best part of the pierogies, and they were a success, does that mean that the Packers actually win the game?

THIRD QUARTER: The Steelers finally start looking good, but then lose their lustre quickly.
After the pierogies were formed they looked pretty good.  I was starting to get excited.

Then I boiled them.  It’s funny.  The recipe said that they float to the top when they’re done.  It also said it would take 8-10 minutes.  Mine took no more than five.  But after they were done boiling they looked odd.  I rinsed them off just like it told me to, but there was still a pretty thick layer of starch on the outside.  I was hoping for a big finish in the skillet.

FOURTH QUARTER: Troy Polumalu  scores a defensive touchdown.
All this time I was also making the chicken-corn soup, and at this point Karen came home from work and finished it off.  I was very grateful.  Yes, Karen is now playing the part of Troy.  She is the superstar in our kitchen.  Plus, she’s got beautiful hair.

FINAL TWO MINUTES:  The Steelers’ defense puts the game away, led by James Harrison.
Well, he was the onions, was he not?  The final step in the process is to saute some sliced onions in butter, and when they were soft add the pierogies and pan fry until crisp.  At this point even Karen was looking optimistic.

GAME OVER!  The Steelers win.  James Harrison is named MVP.
Even Karen said they were great.  The best part was the crispy outside, and guess what else?  The soup was GOLD!  How cool is that?  Thanks to some saffron, which was actually in the recipe.  I wish I’d had some black beans to serve on the side.  But no matter, this dinner was awesome.

MY PICK: Steelers 24, Packers 20.

Advertisements




Doing the impossible

27 01 2011

My annual Super Bowl post is coming very soon.  For an opening act I thought I’d showcase once again why this blog is called Mark Ruins Dinner.

If you’re like me (and why wouldn’t you be?) you purchase convenience food at the grocery store because it’s quick and impossible to ruin.  You may have even asked yourself “How could you possibly wreck a frozen pizza?”  Here’s your answer.

The boys had some friends over so I thought getting a couple frozen pizzas would be an easy dinner that everyone would eat.  So I got one cheese and one pepperoni and put them in the oven at the same time.  After 17 minutes we checked on them.  At this point Karen said to me “Why did you put one right above the other?  You’re supposed to stagger them so the crusts cook properly.”  She couldn’t have told me that at the beginning.  Besides, I’m the homemade pizza guy now.  Anyway, we moved them apart so that the top pizza crust would cook, but it wasn’t that easy.  You see, the crust on the top one had started sagging through the oven rack.  But we did our best and moved it over.  But then Karen decided it would be a good idea to turn it, so that it would stop sagging.  In the process she ripped a hole in the middle of the pizza:

That’s the cheese dripping through the middle of the pizza.  I quickly got it out before it opened up like a black hole.  We had a heck of a time getting it out of the oven, but the boys ate it just fine.  Karen said it looked like a belly button.  I don’t think that’s a good thing for a pizza.

This doesn’t bode well for my Super Bowl pick.