Friday, July 16, 2010

Verenika Casserole

Has anyone out there, besides my local readers, ever heard of verenika? Me neither, until I started hanging out with the locals around these parts. (I make it sound like I'm from a far off land, but in reality I grew up about 10 miles away.) Anyway, according to them it's a German dish, but I contend that it's strictly Mennonite food since I'm just as German as they are, but had never eaten it until they introduced it. Verenika is a tasty dumpling filled with a meat and cottage cheese mixture and boiled or fried. It can be a lot of work to make, so as a compromise, I make verenika casserole. It's not quite as special, but it's still tasty!

I usually use sausage in mine, but you can really use any kind of meat you want. This time I used ham because that's what Blondie likes. For this recipe, you need a small package of noodles, a cup of sour cream, a cup of cottage cheese, a carton of whipping cream, and a pound of meat. If you use sausage or bacon, cook it first. I used pre-cooked ham, so all I had to do was cut it up into cubes. I have no idea how much I actually used. I just cut up enough chunks that it looked right. It might have been a pound. Or not. Whatever.

First, you boil the noodles. I usually use egg noodles, but Blondie likes the way his grandma makes it with larger noodles. I found some fancy Amish (isn't that an oxymoron...fancy Amish) noodles at the grocery store. They were really expensive, so I figured they must be very special. In reality, they're pretty much just fettuccine noodles. I'll know next time!

After your noodles are al dente, drain them and mix up the noodles, sour cream, cottage cheese, whipping cream, and meat in a big mixing bowl. You can add salt and pepper if you like. I didn't because I figured the ham was already pretty salty. Stir until the noodles and meat are well coated. It will look like this:

After everything is mixed up really well, pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish. I use a rubber scraper to get every last bit of the creamy goodness out of the mixing bowl.

Then, bake at 350* for 20-30 minutes. It will look like this when it's done:

Let it sit for a little while before serving so the sauce will have some time to thicken. I served this with a crisp, green salad. Blondie actually thought it tasted good, which is rare, but it did need some salt and pepper.


zentmrs said...

Sounds really tasty! Thanks for sharing!

Lilibeth said...

I can't wait to try some. It looks better than the real verenika.

Carina said...

We always use the frozen Rheems (Rheams?) noodles from the cold section. They're the best!

jlkroe said...

By the way - it's from the Ukraine. (Those German Mennonites want to take credit for it - but they stole it from the folk in the Krimea. ) :-)