The Saucy Pierogi
We spoke to Konrad Obara of The Saucy Pierogi in Toronto to chat about family recipes and comfort food—just in time for winter.
Why do we love comfort food? As Canadians, I’ve always had a suspicion it’s weather related. As the weather gets colder we go into hibernation mode—we pile on warm, woolen blankets and eat rich, comforting foods. But, of course, comfort food isn’t just a Canadian thing. In fact, some of our favourite cuisines excel in comfort food. Which is why when we had the opportunity to sit down with Konrad Obara, the owner and recipe developer of Toronto-based restaurant The Saucy Pierogi, we jumped at the chance. Pierogies being, of course, an excellent comfort food, and Polish in origin.
What makes a great comfort food?
According to Obara, it’s something that takes a bit of time to make. “When I think of comfort food, I think of my Grandmother’s and my mother’s cooking growing up,” says Obara. “It’s what makes you feel best on a cold day—those kind of meals that really stick to the bones.” Our take? Anything rich, stewed, slow-cooked or saucy makes an ideal comfort food. The point after all is to be comforted—it’s not to count calories.
How to update your favourite recipes
One thing that The Saucy Pierogi is especially good at is taking classic recipes (passed down from Obara’s family) and updating them in modern ways—paying special attention to incorporating different types of cuisine. Obara likes to use classic methods, while adding a little modern flair. “We’re still using classic fillings, but some of the flavours we’re introducing people don’t necessarily associate with Polish cooking,” says Obara. For example, the restaurant’s duck pierogi dish still uses the classic pierogi dough, but topped with Asian-influenced ingredients like daikon and hoisin sauce. The lesson here? Updating your traditional family favourites can be as easy as swapping out a few ingredients to keep your recipes fresh.
Make it a family affair
The best part about comfort food is that it is usually derived from a recipe that’s been tested until perfect—our own Canadian Living mantra. And chances are you got it from a maternal or paternal figure who made it just perfect. If you can, it’s great to get your family in on the cooking—and tasting. “Literally every dish needs to get the go-ahead from my mom,” says Obara. Partly because Obara learned a lot about cooking from his mother, but also to pay homage to his roots. “I always want to keep the substance and foundation of the recipe while doing new things.”
Let us know—how do you update old recipes to make them new again?