Lentils – Polish Style

The lentil  is Lens culinaris,  an edible legume –  which means its seeds grow in pods.

The seeds are lens-shaped from whence it gets its name –  meaning  little lens.

The Polish is soczewica and is also from a word meaning a small lens.

It belongs to the bean family and these seeds are classed as pulses – dry seeds for consumption.

Lentils originated in the Near East and Central Asia and are the oldest  pulses and among the earliest crops domesticated in the Old World.

The first evidence of pulses comes from 11,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, a region in the Middle East which was home to some of the earliest human civilizations.

They are mentioned in the Bible –  Genesis 25:29-34 – when Esau gives up his birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage.

” …let me eat the red soup … then Jacob gave him bread and lentil soup

Figures for 2016 show the top four countries for lentil production as:

    • Canada
    • India
    • Turkey
    • United States of America

I bought a packet of whole allspice (ziele angielskie) and this recipe was on the back.

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I think it is related to Breton beans – a popular Polish recipe.

Ingredients

200g – 250g dried lentils

100g smoked bacon – chopped into small squares.

200g Polish sausage (I used Toruńska) – sliced

2 onions – chopped

3 cloves of garlic – sliced

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

200 ml of chicken stock (can be from a cube or concentrate)

5 grains of allspice

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon of sweet paprika (not smoked)

1 teaspoon of Italian herbs

Sunflower oil for frying

Ground black pepper

(salt might not be needed because of the bacon and sausage)

Yoghurt and chopped flat-leaved parsley to serve

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160°C

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Cook the lentils in water until they are soft.

Use a sieve to remove some of the excess water – if any.

Fry up the bacon and the onions and garlic.

In a jug or bowl mix the stock, paprika, herbs and pepper.

Get an oven proof dish with a lid and add the lentils, fried bacon, onions and garlic.

Add the tomatoes and the stock mixture.

Add the sliced sausage, the bay leaves and allspice and mix all together thouroughly.

 

Put the lid on the dish and place into the oven.

Cook for 45 -60 minutes.

 

 

Serve garnished with flat – leafed parsley or this and a dollop of plain yoghurt or soured cream as well.

Here served in Royal Doulton – Carnation (1982 – 1998) dishes.

Pasta Salad with Skwarki

There was a heat wave this summer (2018) in England and Europe and during my recent trip to The Netherlands, I had lunch in the sunny garden of my friend’s older sister.

 

One of the dishes was a pasta salad  and included an ingredient which you would find as a garnish in many Polish dishes – skwarki – small, crispy, fried, bacon pieces.

This was a wonderful addition and I think would go well in other salads too.

I recreated this dish when I got home – the exact amounts are not so important.

Ingredients

400g  of cooked Penne or Macaroni

1 small tin of sweetcorn – drained

3 celery stalks

125g of smoked bacon

3 tablespoons of  mayonnaise (I used full fat – which I prefer for cooked salads)

Ground black pepper

Method

Chop the bacon into small squares and place on a heavy frying pan on a medium heat until all the fat comes out and you are left with small, crispy squares.

 

Drain the bacon pieces from the fat and place them on some kitchen roll and leave them until they are cold.

Chop the celery into fine pieces.

You can cut the pasta into smaller pieces if you wish.

 

 

In a large bowl, mix the pasta, sweetcorn, celery and the skwarki together.

 

Add the mayonnaise and the ground black pepper and mix well together.

Note

You are unlikely to need to add any salt as this is provided by the bacon.

This salad will go well with cold meats and barbecued meats.

 

Polish Beans – American Style

I believe this recipe is very popular in America and I think it is a sort of second generation recipe which is made up from memories of  dishes from Poland and some adaptations using local ingredients.

I feel this is a blend of two previous bean recipes Beans – po Staropolsku (in an old Polish style) which has a lot of sweetness using prunes and honey and Breton beans with tomato sauce.   Here the sweetness is from maple syrup (I still had some from my friend who now lives in Canada – so thought of her as when making this).

Ingredients

Note – these quantities do not have to be exact.

200 -300g kielbasa – Polish sausage

200 – 300g smoked bacon

400 – 500g minced beef

2 small onions

4 large tins of different beans (butter beans, canellini, haricot, red kidney etc) – some recipes say that using some butter beans is a must!

3 tablespoons of tomato puree

1 tablespoon of made-up mustard

1 tablespoon of wine or cider vinegar

250ml maple syrup

Ground black pepper

Sunflower oil for frying

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 160°C

Drain the beans and place then into an ovenproof dish with a lid.

Chop the onions into small pieces and fry them up in a little oil.

Chop the bacon into small pieces and add these to the onions and fry them together.

Slice and chop the sausage and add this to the onions and bacon.

Add the minced meat  to the mixture and fry this up for a few minutes.

Add this mixture to the beans in the dish.

Mix in the tomato puree, mustard, vinegar, maple syrup and black pepper.

Put the lid on the dish.

Cook for around 3 hours in the oven until the beans are soft.

 

Note

This is suitable for making in a slow cooker.

This can be eaten as a dish on its own or served with bread.

 

 

French Connections

Fasolka po bretonsku

This is Beans in a Breton style and is a very popular dish in Poland.

It is a dish of beans cooked with Polish sausage and smoked bacon in a tomato sauce.

When Lidl, the supermarket,  has a Polish Week they often have jars of this for sale.

I have done some research and can find lots of Polish recipes for this but not a single French or Breton recipe which is similar. So I cannot tell you why this typical Polish dish is associated with Brittany or France.

French Connections

There are however many, many connections with Poland and France – here are just a few:

  • Prince Henri de Valois (1551 – 1589) was elected King of Poland and reigned from 1573 to 1575. He resigned to become Henri III of France.
  • King Władysław IV Waza (1595 – 1648) – married the French Princess  Louse Marie Gonzaga
  • King Jan II Kazimierz Waza (1609 –1672) married Louse Marie Gonzaga when she became the widow of the King  Władysław IV Waza.
  • King Jan III Sobieski (1629 –1695) – married Marie Casimire Louise de la Grange d’Arquien.
  • Stanisław Leszczński (1677-1766) was King of Poland and then became the Duke of Lorraine.
  • His daughter Maria Leszczyńska (1703-1768) became the Queen consort of Louis XV(1710– 1774) of France and was the Grandmother of Louis XVI (1754–1793).
  • Poland was an Ally of Napoleon (1769 – 1821) especially in the war against the Russians.

Many Poles went to live and work in France including:

  • Adam Mickiewicz (1798 – 1855) – poet
  • Fryderyk Chopin (1810 – 1849) – composer
  • Cyprian Norwid (1821 – 1883) – poet
  • Maria Skłodowska Curie (1867 – 1934) – scientist
  • André Citroën (1878-1935) – entrepreneur
  • Aleksander (Alexandre) Tansman (1897 – 1986) – composer
  • Tadeusz Baird (1928 – 1981) – composer

Ingredients

Note – these quantities do not have to be exact.

2 cans of beans (approx 420g each) (haricot, canellini  or barlotti)

200g smoked bacon

200g Polish sausage, (I used Toruńska and Śląska)

2 onions

3 tablespoons of tomato puree

500ml of hot water

1 teaspoon of Italian herbs or marjoram

1 teaspoon of sweet paprika (can use hot paprika)

4 grains of allspice

2 – 3 bay leaves

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 3 – 160°C.

Cut the bacon into small squares and fry them up.

Cut the onions into small pieces and fry these up.

Drain the beans and place them into an oven proof dish (one that has a lid).

Add the fried bacon and onions and mix together.

Slice the sausage and add this to the bean mixture.

Mix the tomato puree with the hot water and add the Italian herbs and paprika.

Pour this over the bean mixture and add the allspice and bay leaves and mix throughly.

Cook in the oven for several hours until the beans are soft.

This can be eaten as a dish on its own or served with bread.

Note

This is suitable for making in a slow cooker.

Beans – po staropolsku

Po staropolsku  means in an old Polish style and this often includes using  prunes and honey.

Originally this recipe would have been made with dried beans soaked overnight.

To make life easier I usually use tinned beans such as haricot, cannellini (white kidney beans) or black-eyed beans.

 

Haricot beans in Polish are called fasola jaś which means Johnny bean.  In the British TV comedy programme Mr Bean, which is very popular in Poland, our hero is called Jaś Fasola.

Ingredients

2 tins of beans (haricot, canellini or similar)

250g smoked  bacon

2 onions

12 soft – no need to soak – prunes

2-3 tablespoons of plain flour

3 tablespoons of honey

Sunflower oil for frying

Ground black pepper

Marjoram or Italian herbs

Quarters of lemon to serve

Method

Put the prunes in a dish and cover them with boiling water and leave for around 15 minutes.

Remove the prunes (save the liquor) and chop them into into quarters.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 3 – 160°C

Chop the bacon into small squares and fry these up in a little sunflower oil.

Chop the onions into small pieces and add them to the bacon and fry them all up together.

Lightly brown the flour and add the liquor from the prunes and any more water needed to make a pourable sauce.

Add the fried bacon and onions, honey,  ground pepper and marjoram.

Drain the beans from the cans and put them into an oven proof dish (one that has a lid).

Add the bacon mixture to the beans and mix together.

Put the lid on the dish and cook in the oven for at least 1 hour,  I often cook this for a lot longer as I like the beans quite soft but take care that I top up the liquid if necessary.

Serve each portion with 1 or 2 quarters of lemon – the squeezed juice adds a little zest to beans.

Sauerkraut – Traditional with Bacon

This is  a very popular dish to make in the winter time with produce from the stores.

Ingredients

1 large jar sauerkraut – 800-900g

100g smoked streaky bacon

1 onion

1 teaspoon caraway.

2-3  tablespoons of plain flour

Oil or bacon fat for frying

1 tablespoon granulated sugar*

 

*The acidity of sauerkraut varies very much and homemade is often not as acid.

*Rinsing bottled sauerkraut before use will lower the acidity.

*The amount of  sugar  you add to the dish is a personal preference – if rinsed 1 tablespoon should be enough – if not rinsed you might need 1 -2 tablespoons more.

 

Method

Drain the sauerkraut and keep the liquid ( you may want to use it to adjuct the acidity of the dish later ).

Rinse the sauerkraut with cold water.

Place the sauerkraut in a large saucepan and pour boiling water over it until it just covers it.

Add the sugar.

Bring to the boil and then cover the saucepan with a lid and let it gently simmer for around 10  minutes.

Continue heating either gently on top of the stove or put the pan with the lid into a low to medium oven.

Cook for  around another 30 minutes until the sauerkraut is soft.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the caraway seeds – put the dish  back into oven or keep on the stove with the lid on.

Chop the bacon into small squares and heat gently in a frying pan to release the fat.

Chop the onions into small pieces and add them to the pan and fry the onions until they are golden.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and heat gently to brown the flour.

Add spoonfuls of liquid from the sauerkraut mixture to the onion mix.

Stir and heat to form a thickening roux/paste.

Add this to the sauerkraut mixture and mix throughly.

Put the pan back in the oven for around 10 minutes – or heat gently on the stove.

Sprinkle ground black pepper on the top before serving.

Serve with rye bread or boiled potatoes and hot roast pork or cooked Polish sausages.

 

Here served with Kolos rye bread,  from the Bradford Ukranian Bakery,  founded in 1961 and grilled Polish sausage from Torun (kiełbasa Toruńska) – the birthplace of the astronomer Copernicus (Kopernik ) – also famous for its spiced honey cake (piernik)

Served on Carnation by Royal Doulton, 1982 – 1998.

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Bigos

Bigos is often called Poland’s national dish. It is Poland’s sweet and sour dish using sweet (fresh) cabbage and sour(fermented) cabbage (sauerkraut).

Quick Bigos

This is a smaller, quicker version than the traditional bigos recipe.

I often make it somewhere  in between the traditional recipe and this quick recipe as all the amount are very flexible.

If you can only get large jars of sauerkraut then you can put half the contents into a plastic bag or box and freeze it for later use.

Getting Ready to Cook Bigos
Getting Ready to Cook Bigos

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Bigos
Bigos
Bigos
Bigos

Ingredients

500g sauerkraut (1 small tin or jar or half a large jar)

300g fresh white cabbage – 1 small head or half a large head

100g of Frankfurters or Polish Ring

100g smoked bacon

1 large onion

100g tomato purée (1/2 tube)

20g plain flour

2 bay leaves

3 to 4 peppercorns

sugar or lemon juice to taste – optional

fat/oil to fry in

note – salt should not be needed as the sausage and bacon contain salt.

Finely chop the fresh cabbage into long strands and place in a large pan with the sauerkraut.

In a jug mix the tomato purée with some hot water and then add this to the pan. Add more boiling water to cover the cabbage mixture.

Add the bay leaves and peppercorns and then boil gently till the cabbage is becoming soft.

Slice up the various smoked sausages, chop the bacon into small squares and add to the cabbage mixture and boil gently till everything is soft.

Chop the onion into small pieces and fry till golden, add the flour and fry till the mixture is just about to burn and then add this mixture to the bigos.

Adjust the sourness to taste with sugar and or lemon juice.

Now you can either heat it all together gently over a low heat with a lid on the pan, stirring the mixture occasionally or put the mixture into a large oven proof dish (I use an enamelled dish) with a lid and put it in the oven at GM 4 – 180oC for about 2 hours.

Bigos tastes better if made one day, left overnight, and then reheated in a saucepan or in a dish in the oven.

Note

Bigos freezes well – I portion it up into manageable portions which will serve 2 or 3 – wrapping it in plastic bags within a plastic box to prevent the tomato staining the plastic.

Serving

Bigos is usually served with rye bread but I often serve it with boiled or mashed potatoes.