The Polish Kitchen

Polish Delicatessen [51KB]
A Polish delicatessen in Chicago. Source: Microsoft Encarta 98

Try some of these recipes of traditional Polish fare.
Wherever possible, heart-healthy substitutions are given in boldface in the directions.
Smacznego! Enjoy!

Placuszki Serowe
(Cheese Pancakes)

3/4 lb. (0.5 kg.) farmer's cheese
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
Some flour
Run the farmer's cheese through a meat grinder. Add the powdered sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt to the cheese. Mix well and form into small patties. Roll in flour, pressing flour into patties gently, and fry them in hot oil or butter until golden brown on both sides. Serve with powdered sugar, jam or sour cream. Makes about a dozen pancakes.

(Cucumber Salad)

2 or 3 cucumbers, peeled
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped dill (optional)
Sour cream
Thinly slice the cucumbers into a large bowl, salt them well and let them stand for 30 min. Pour away the liquid that forms. Sprinkle them with vinegar, a little pepper, sugar and dill. Dress them with sour cream just before serving. For a more heart-healthy recipe, omit salting the cucumbers; and substitute well-drained plain nonfat yogurt for the sour cream.

Kapusta Duszona
(Stewed Cabbage and Meat)

1 lb. (0.5 kg.) boneless pork, cubed
1 large onion, diced
1 small cabbage
2 to 5 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
Roll the pork in flour and brown it in a few tablespoons of cooking oil in a skillet. Add the onion, reduce the heat, add a little water and simmer the mixture under cover until tender. Separately, shred the cabbage, place it in a pot and scald it with boiling water to cover. Bring the cabbage to a boil and simmer it until it is soft and translucent. Drain the cabbage, combine it with the meat and simmer together in the skillet a few minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, vinegar, caraway and dill. Mix in the sour cream. Serves 4 people. For a more heart-healthy recipe, use lean pork and brown it in 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a non-stick skillet; and substitute well-drained plain nonfat yogurt for the sour cream.

Grzyby Duszone w S'mietanie
(Creamed Mushrooms)

1 1/2 lb. (0.75 kg.) fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 medium onions, minced
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped dill
3/4 cup (200 ml.) sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
Gently wash the mushrooms. In a large skillet, simmer the onions and butter until tender. Add the mushrooms and 1 cup (250 ml.) of water. Simmer covered for 30 min. or until tender. Season with salt and pepper and add the dill. Separately fork-blend the sour cream and flour, then add it to the mushrooms. For a more heart-healthy recipe, substitute 1 tablespoon canola oil for the butter; use a non-stick skillet; and substitute well-drained plain nonfat yogurt for the sour cream.

(Fire Vodka)

1 1/2 cups (375 ml.) honey
2/3 cup (150 ml.) water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 sticks cinnamon
2 whole cloves
3 strips lemon peel (2 in. long)
1 bottle (750 ml.) vodka
Combine honey with the water, vanilla, spices and lemon peel in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 min. Add the vodka, remove from heat. Serve hot or cooled. Makes about 1 quart (1 l.).

Warszawskie Pa,czki
(Warsaw Doughnuts)

12 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup (60 ml.) warm water
1/3 cup (100 ml.) butter (at room temp.)
1/2 cup (125 ml.) sugar
4 1/2 cups (1.125 l.) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons rum or brandy
1 cup (250 ml.) whipping cream, scalded
1 1/2 cups (300 ml.) preserves (optional)
Fat for deep frying heated to 365° F (185° C)
Beat egg yolks with the salt in the small mixing bowl of an electric mixer at high speed until the mixture is thick and piles softly, about 7 min.

Soften yeast in warm water in a large bowl.

Cream butter. Add sugar to it gradually, creaming until fluffy. Beat into the softened yeast.

Stir one fourth of the flour into the yeast mixture. Add rum and half of the cream. Beat in another fourth of the flour. Stir in remaining cream. Beat in half of the remaining flour. Then beat in the egg yolks. Beat for 2 min. Gradually beat in the remaining flour until the dough blisters.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise. When it has doubled in bulk, punch it down. Cover. Let dough rise again until doubled. Punch it down again.

Roll dough on a floured surface to about 3/4 in. (2 cm.) thickness. Cut out 3 in. (7.5 cm.) rounds. Use a regular doughnut cutter for plain doughnuts. Use a biscuit cutter for filled doughnuts.

To fill the doughnuts, place 1 teaspoonful of preserves in the center of half the rounds. Brush edges of rounds with water. Top with remaining rounds. Seal the edges.

Cover the doughnuts on a floured surface. Let them rise until doubled in bulk, about 20 min.

Deep fry the doughnuts in the hot fat until they are golden brown on both sides. Drain them on absorbent paper. Sprinkle the doughnuts with cinnamon sugar, if desired. Makes about 3 dozen.

Golonki Duszone z Suszonymi S'liwkami
(Braised Pork Shanks with Prunes)

4 medium-size pork shanks
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 dozen seedless prunes
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
This recipe is a best-guess, untested, re-creation of the dish described on the web page, "The Persistence of the Polish Memory."

In a deep skillet, quickly sauté the onion in a few tablespoons of cooking oil. Introduce the pork shanks and brown them briefly on all sides. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat and cook about 5 min. Add the prunes, nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Add water to barely cover the bottom of the skillet. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 20 min. or until the shank meat is tender and almost falling away from the bone. Serves 4 people.

Golonki Wieprzowe Marynowane w Piwie
(Pork Shanks Marinated in Beer)

4 medium-size pork shanks
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
A few juniper berries
A few cloves
A few pinches of rosemary leaves
Some pimento
Salt and pepper
Juice from a fresh-squeezed lemon
1 bottle of beer
Here is another pork shank recipe, untested, and translated from the Polish and adapted from the recipe web page of the Horolna Inn, near Zywiec in Poland.

Put the pork shanks in an oven-proof casserole and add the dry seasonings, the garlic, pimento and celery. Cover the casserole and keep it in the refrigerator for two days. After the two days, bring the beer to a boil in a saucepan, add the lemon juice, and pour the mixture over the ingredients in the casserole. Re-refrigerate. After two more days, braise the pork shanks in the marinade on the stove until they are cooked through. Serves 4 people.

Gol'a,bki Stefana
(Steve's Cabbage Rolls)

1 lb. (0.5 kg.) ground beef
1/2 lb. (0.25 kg.) ground pork
2 cups (0.5 l.) rice (not instant rice)
1 quart (1 l.) spaghetti sauce (any flavor)
1 cabbage, about 3 lb. (1.4 kg.)
1 lb. (0.5 kg.) or 24 - 32 oz. jar sauerkraut
Clean and rinse the cabbage, place it in a large pot and cover it with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the cabbage leaves are pliable and translucent. Mix well the ground meats, rice, spaghetti sauce and some salt and pepper in a large bowl. Remove the large cooked cabbage leaves, trim the tough leaf stems with a paring knife and fill each leaf with a small handful of the meat and rice mixture. Fold the leaf to make a roll.
Remove the large cooked cabbage leaves Trim the tough leaf stems Fill the cabbage leaf near the base Roll sides toward center; roll tightly
Drain and rinse the sauerkraut. Chop the leftover cabbage and mix it with the sauerkraut. Layer the cabbage rolls in a large pot or oven-proof casserole. Cover each layer with the cabbage-sauerkraut mix. Add water about half way. Cover. Cook over low heat or bake at 350° F (175° C) for about 45 min. When done, the meat should be fully cooked and the rice should be tender. Makes about 12 to 15 rolls. For a more heart-healthy recipe, substitute textured vegetable protein (like Harvest Burgers®) for the meats; use no-salt-added tomato sauce instead of regular spaghetti sauce; omit the sauerkraut and add 2 to 5 teaspoons vinegar for the sour taste.

Photographic Source: Polish Cooking by Marianna Olszewska Heberle.

S'ledz' Marynowany
(Marinated Herring)

12 salted herrings
6 cups (1.5 l) vinegar
6 onions, thinly sliced
24 whole peppercorns
3 teaspoons celery seed
3 tablespoons sugar
This authentic 19th c. recipe was made by Kaszubs in Michigan. The recipe was found among papers in an old family bible.

Soak the herrings for 24 hours (change the water six times). Split, clean, and cut herring into pieces 3 in. (7.5 cm.) long. Bring the vinegar to a boil and add all other ingredients. Cool the marinade. Pour it over the herring in a crock. Cover the crock and store it in a cool place [the refrigerator]. Marinate for two weeks.

Source: Gniez'niks by Harry Milostan.

Pierogi z Kapusta, Kwaszona,
(Sauerkraut Dumplings)

3 cups (0.75 l) sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 to 3/4 cup (125 to 200 ml) cold water

Sauerkraut filling:
1 large onion, sliced
Bacon fat or cooking oil
1 lb. (0.5 kg) sauerkraut, drained
For the dough, sift flour with salt. Combine beaten egg with water and add to the flour mixture. Blend with a wet fork to form a dough. Knead on a floured surface about 10 min. Cover dough with a bowl, and let it stand for half an hour. Roll dough 1/8 in. (3 mm.) thick. Cut into 3 in. (7.5 cm.) dia. circles.

Prepare the filling by cooking onion in bacon fat or cooking oil until tender. Stir in sauerkraut. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling on each circle. Fold circles in half and pinch edges to seal. Let stand 5 to 7 min. Cook in boiling water 5 to 7 min. Brown in bacon fat or cooking oil in a frying pan. If extra filling remains after the dumplings are filled, heat it in the frying pan when browning the dumplings and serve it on the side. Makes about two dozen.

Source: Polka Sausage & Deli, 8753 S. Commercial Av., Chicago 60617.

(Hunter's Stew)

3 lb. (1.5 kg) sauerkraut, drained, or 1 large head cabbage, shredded and scalded
2 lb. various roasted meats (mostly kiel'basa or ham), including game if available, cubed
4 large sour apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) dried mushrooms
2 large onions, finely chopped
20 seedless prunes, cut into strips
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry red wine or madeira
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Bacon fat or butter
In an enamelled or cast-iron enamelled pot, start to cook the sauerkraut or cabbage over low heat in a small amount of water, or better yet, in some stock of cooked kiel'basa. Add the apples (use 1 1/2 lb. [0.7 kg] apples, if cabbage is used) and the mushrooms and simmer slowly, stirring often. Brown the onions in the bacon fat or butter in a frying pan. Add the onions and prunes into the pot along with the wine or madeira. Finally, add the meats and the tomato paste. Season the bigos with some salt and pepper. It should be sharp in taste. Continue to simmer it over low heat for 40 min., stirring often, as it tends to burn. Serve very hot with whole wheat bread and glasses of chilled vodka. Makes 4 servings. Re-heated, it improves in taste. For a more heart-healthy recipe, use lean roasted pork or beef instead of the kiel'basa and ham; use cabbage instead of sauerkraut; and sauté the onions in canola oil.

Source: Old Polish Traditions by Maria Lemnis and Henryk Vitry.

Zrazy Zawijane
(Polish Beef Rolls)

4 tender beef sirloin slices, pounded
1 firm dill pickle, peeled and cut into strips
4 strips of raw bacon
Some dried mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
Beef broth
Peppercorns, dash of allspice, bay leaf
Dijon mustard
Cooking oil
Sprinkle the pounded beef slices with a little salt and pepper. Thinly spread some of the mustard on them. Place a strip of bacon and some pickle strips on each slice. Roll each slice and tie them with some kitchen twine. Brown the beef rolls in a little cooking oil in a frying pan. Add 1/2 cup (125 ml) beef broth to the pan along with the onion, mushrooms and spices. Simmer the rolls over low heat for about an hour or until done, adding additional broth if necessary. Serve hot with some of the sauce drizzled over each roll. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Old Polish Traditions by Maria Lemnis and Henryk Vitry.

(Easter Sweet Bread)

Babka with icing
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk, scalded and cooled
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
2 cups (0.5 l) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 ml) butter (at room tempurature)
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mace
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup (125 ml) each raisins, chopped almonds (optional)
Confectioner's icing or honey
Dissolve yeast in the milk. Let stand 10 min. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix well. Cover. Let rise until doubled.

Cream the butter, gradually adding the remaining sugar. Beat until fluffy. Beat in 3 whole eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in 1 egg yolk; reserve remaining egg white.

Mix the remaining flour with the salt and spices. Beat into butter mixture. Stir in lemon peel, raisins and almonds.

Beat yeast mixture into the batter. Beat the batter until silky, about 10 to 15 min.

Turn into a well-greased and floured 10 in. (25 cm.) dia. tube pan (Bundt pan). Cover. Let rise until tripled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Beat remaining egg white until foamy. Brush over top of the babka.

Bake in a pre-heated 350° F (175° C) oven for about 40 min., until the babka sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool on rack for 10 min. Remove from pan. Drizzle with icing (as shown) or brush with honey, if desired. Makes 1 babka.

Photographic Source: Polish Cooking by Marianna Olszewska Heberle.