Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pagash AKA: Pierogi Pizza

Pagash- Pierogi Pizza

On the passing of a really great man:

This December 28th, my family said goodbye to my Pap (my mother's father.) After 20 plus years of valiantly, fighting Parkinson's disease, it was time for my Pap to rise up to a better place. Although his disease restricted him in his last few years of life, I know that when he was called on December 28th, he did not walk to God; my Pap danced!

Pap and I.

It is hard to know what to say about someone after they have passed; to give them praise that they deserve. At his wake, as I walked around the room of friends and family, I heard one common statement; "Chuck was a character." And he was! There was no one more enthusiastic about life than my Pap! My sister and I knew this from a very young age. We used to stay at my grandparent's house when we were young and go out on errands with my Pap. Man, did we look forward to that!!  He knew everyone in his little town and they all knew him. We would stop at the local restaurant, at my great-aunt's house and the grocery store and everywhere we went he was like a small town celebrity. Pap was always dressed to the nines and not afraid to ask anyone how he looked. Even as little kids, we saw that he was the light in the room. No matter what situation he was in- people came to him; and when we were young it was as if the people were coming to us too!! He made us feel loved as he showed off "his girls" to his friends, bought us cherry soda, drove around town listening to big band music and waving to almost every person we passed.

As I grew a little older, he and my Gram were a constant presence in my life.  He helped teach me how to drive in his relaxed "Pap" way-  with all the car windows down and calmly talking about Notre Dame Football. As a surprise,  he showed up to my college football game, two hours away from his house, to see me work as an athletic trainer- something I was very proud of.  And one of the last times that I saw him dance with my Gram was at my wedding in 2003. They were beautiful.  I could go on and on.....

Everything Pap did he did with gusto!! He loved his family, he loved to dance, he loved Big Band music, he loved the NY Yankees, Notre Dame and the Chicago Bears, he loved Spangler (Northern Cambria), he loved his garden, and he loved his girls- all 4 of us.  He loved my Gram who took care of him tirelessly till the end.  In life no one is perfect and some may say that he lived life in excess, but I believe that his motto was- "Whatever you do in life- do it passionately."  And in no way did he ever let himself down...

Thank you for teaching me to live life to it's fullest.

Love Always,

Pagash AKA Pierogi Pizza

This recipe is posted here for my Pap. His heritage was Slovak. As you all know, I deal with stressful situations through my "Kitchen Therapy." I saw my pap 4 days before he passed. It was a sad day but one that will live with me forever. On that last visit, we held hands for a long time and he told me I was beautiful....

 After arriving home and being here for 9 hours I heard of my Pap's passing and I booked a ticket to go to Pennsylvania again.  When I got home about 5 days later. I was depressed and wanted to pay homage to him in my thoughts and in my kitchen. I decided to make Pagash. It is a pizza that is Slovak or Polish in nature. It is similar in taste and ingredients to Pierogi. My Pap's sister, Mary used to make Pagash in a coal stove that she used in her kitchen to cook all food. From family tales, I hear that it was "to die for" and no one can make Pagash like Aunt Mary. This is my version. It is made with love for my families heritage and my Pap Homady.

1 package Fleischmann's pizza crust yeast and the ingredients listed on the package for preparation or you could by a pizza dough ball in your local bakery
2 cups mashed potatoes with 1/2 cup sharp Cheddar cheese added (prepared potatoes with your normal recipe and add cheese)
4-6 Tbsp butter, melted
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 medium onion, sliced into very thin rings
1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Prepare potatoes and allow to cool slightly, about 1 hour. It is best to make the potatoes a little dry especially if you normally make them very whipped. A thick, creamy mashed potato is best. I normally peel and boil about 5 medium size russet potatoes, cut them into uniform squares, cover them in water and boil them until fork tender. I then drain them and add 1/4 cup milk and 4 Tbsp salted butter. I add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp fresh ground pepper. I then mash until smooth. Add the cheese and allow to sit covered so the cheese can melt. This recipe makes more then the suggested 2 cups but I love leftovers. As I suggested you can use your own recipe here. If you like to add sour cream or other ingredients feel free. Just remember, you want the potatoes so be thick.

After your potatoes have cooled for about 1 hour it is time to make the crust. I follow the directions on the package for preparation. The one change it do make is I hand toss the dough and then roll it onto a pizza stone. I then par bake the crust for about 6 minutes at 425 degrees. Since I do not have a pizza oven at my house (and who does), I like to par bake the crust so it is browned on the bottom and it allows for a much more durable layer to hold all the potatoes and cheese.

While the crust is baking I melt my butter in the microwave in a small mug and add the 3 cloves of minced garlic to make a garlic butter sauce. Also add the Italian Seasoning. After taking the crust out of the oven.

I spread the garlic butter all over the crust. I then add the mashed potatoes over the butter. Spread them evenly (like icing) with a rubber scraper or offset knife. I then layer on the onion ringd. Then the 3 types of cheese.

Place the pizza in the oven and bake at 425 for 15-17 minute. At this time, I set the oven to Broil and allow the pizza in the oven until the cheese is slightly brown; about 3-4 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and allow to cool 8-10 minutes before cutting. The potatoes will solidify a little and you will have pretty slices.

Also a great addition to this pizza is crumbled bacon; not traditional but Yum!



Carol said...

Didn't know my mom's pagach was so well liked other than by her kids. Luv your blog. Miss your pap. Keep up the good stories and great recipes.

Rebecca said...

Carol, Thank you so much for your nice comment. Your Mom's pagach should have her own blog. Everyone talks about it. Thanks you so much for your support. I am always thrilled when I find out people (and especially family) are reading and appreciate the blog.

Anonymous said...

Your Aunt Mary was my Gram. She made the BEST PAGACH ever and I am proud to say that my mom makes it just like Gram. I LOVED reading your blog and I miss Uncle Charles everyday. December is a very sad month for your family. Gram, Uncle Charles, Aunt Barb and my husband all died that month. They are looking down on us and I know that he is proud of you for that story. I will cherish him and all our talks about NY Yankees.I can't wait to share this story with the rest of the family and friends.

Stacy said...

Stacy Dolansky-Parrish sent the above comment.

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