Beef Gulasz with Caraway

I came across this recipe recently which uses Gouda cheese with soured cream to thicken the sauce – it works really well and I will be trying this in other recipes.


400g – 500g braising steak – cubed

200g – 250g of mushrooms (chestnut type are good) – sliced

2 large onions – chopped

300ml of chicken stock (can be from a cube or concentrate)

3 tablespoons of caraway seeds

1 -2 tablespoons of plain flour

50g of Gouda cheese – chopped into small cubes.

3 tablespoons of soured cream

Sunflower oil for frying

Salt & pepper to taste.

Flat-leafed parsley to garnish – chopped


Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C

On a large plate mix together the flour, salt and pepper.

Coat the meat cubes lightly in the flour mixture and brown these in the oil in a hot frying pan.

Place the beef into a casserole dish.

Lightly fry the onions and mushrooms in the frying pan and then add them to the beef.



Add the stock and caraway seeds to the pan.

Put on the lid and cook in the oven for around 3 hours until the beef is tender.

Before serving stir in the cubes of cheese and the soured cream and mix well into the sauce.

Garnish with flat-leafed parsley.

Served here with mashed potatoes on Royal Doulton – Carnation – 1982 – 1998.

Kotlety with Cabbage

On my last trip to Poland my  cousin in Białystok suggested this variation on kotlety mielone – minced meat burgers.

The idea is to add shredded white cabbage to the minced meat mix.

I used the following  amounts by weight:

2 parts minced meat : 1 part cabbage – you can go up to equal weights of each.


500g beef mince

250g white cabbage

1 onion – chopped fine

3  tablespoons semolina*

2 eggs

Dried breadcrumbs

Salt  and pepper

* I used semolina instead of my usual white bread soaked in milk – I was pleased with this as an alternative.

Sunflower oil  for frying


Chop the onion fine and fry in a little hot oil till lightly browned then leave till cold.

Cut the cabbage into fine shreds and then across so you have small squarish pieces.

In a large bowl mix the minced meat and cabbage till they are evenly mix.

Add the fried onions and mix again.

Add the eggs and mix.

Add the semolina, salt and pepper and mix until you get a uniform mixture.


Try to make each one the same size, take a handful of the mixture and press it between your hands to make a flattened circle and then place this in the dried breadcrumbs and turn it over to cover both sides and edges.


Once coated place them on a tray dusted with breadcrumbs until you have used all the mixture up.

Shallow fry the kotlety in hot oil, depending on the frying pan size,  you can do 3 to 4 at a time, turning them over so that both sides are done. Place them on kitchen roll on a plate or metal tray till they are all cooked –  you can keep them warm in a low oven.




I had found I like these more when they have been in the oven for a while after frying – evenly cooked through.

These can be served in many ways, with boiled or mashed potatoes or rice and a variety of salads.









Served  here with steamed & buttered new potatoes and carrot & apple salad – on

Royal Doulton – Carnation – 1982 – 1998.

Version 2 – using Cooked Cabbage

Whilst doing some research on this recipe,  I found that some cooks used cooked cabbage rather than raw.


As above but this time with 400g – 500g of uncooked white cabbage  (around the same weight as the minced meat).


Chop the cabbage into large pieces and steam it till cooked.

Dry the cabbage with a clean tea towel to get rid of as much water as possible.

Chop the cabbage into very fine pieces.

Proceed as in the method above.










For both versions, should you have any left,  you can reheat them in sauce made with chicken or vegetable stock.

Zrazy – made with Minced Meat

These zrazy are like the ones made with braising beef in that the minced meat mixture surrounds various stuffings.

The minced meat mixture  is similar to kotlety mielone  &  pulpety – but  zrazy are cooked differently.

You take a large handful of minced meat mixture , place the stuffing on it and then close up the mixture so you have an oval shape with the stuffing on the inside.


500g minced beef

1 beaten egg

4 tablespoons of semolina

1 onion chopped and fried

Salt & pepper

plain flour for coating

Sunflower oil for frying


500ml of chicken stock

1 -2 bay leaves

3-4 Peppercorns

2-3 Allspice berries


Two stuffings often used are –

Pieces of bottled peppers








Sticks of Gouda cheese or similar



Pre-heat the oven to GM 3 – 160°C

Mix the beef, fried onion, egg and semolina together.

Season with salt & pepper.

Divide the mixture into around 6 pieces

Flatten out each piece and place the stuffing in the centre.

Close up the mixture around the stuffing to make an oval shaped ball.

Dust the ball with plain flour.


Lightly seal these by browning then in hot oil.


Place the zrazy into an oven proof dish – one that has a lid – so they are not touching.

Pour in the stock – enough to have some at the bottom but do not cover the zrazy.


Put the lid on and cook in the oven for 1 -2 hours.


You can thicken the stock that the zrazy are cooked in with cornflour or you can add other ingredients such as fried mushrooms and soured cream when you come to serve them.




Two shown here – cut through – one with cheese & one with peppers,  served with a mushroom and soured cream sauce.

Served on Royal Doulton  Carnation – 1982-1998




Zrazy – Meat Roll-ups

Zrazy (this word is plural) is a meat dish popular in Eastern Poland & Lithuania and can be traced back to the 16th & 17th century in the times  of the  Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569 – 1795).

(I have seen zrazy  translated as Meat Roll-ups, Meat Olives or Collops)

Classic zrazy have a rolled shape and are made of thin slices of  beef,  beaten with a mallet, which are stuffed with a variety of ingredients including  mushrooms.

You need to use beef which is good for  braising and slow cooking  –  I used a thin cut of topside and this worked very well.


The stuffed meat is rolled and secured with thread or thin string, then lightly fried and placed in a casserole dish with stock and slow cooked at a low temperature.




For the stock,  I  use chicken or vegetable stock (this can be from a stock cube or powder)  and add bay leaves, whole peppercorns and sometimes whole allspice.




Prior to serving, the threads are removed.



Zrazy are eaten with the sauce in which they were cooked, though extra ingredients can be added to this such as  soured cream, mushrooms or tomato.

You can add some cornflour to thicken the sauce.

Po nelsońsku  –  in Lord Nelson’s style –  is when mushrooms and soured cream are added to the sauce. (I have not been able to discover why this name is used.)



Here served on Royal Doulton – Carnation – 1982 – 1998

Zrazy are often served with buckwheat or boiled potatoes, and beetroot or sauerkraut salad.

Classic Ingredients for the Stuffing

There is no end to the variety of fillings you can use, the following are two traditional ones.

The amounts you need will vary according to how many zrazy you are filling – these are a guide to proportions.

Onions & Rye bread

1/2 slice of rye bread – made into breadcrumbs

1 onion – chopped and fried in butter till golden

1/2 teaspoon of caraway seeds

Salt & pepper

You can spread a little made up mustard onto the meat first.





Dried Mushrooms

20g dried mushrooms  – add around 250ml of boiling water and soak these overnight – chop into small pieces then simmer in the liquid.

1 onion – chopped and browned in butter till golden

Add the onion to the mushrooms and continue simmering till most of the liquid is gone.


Add salt and pepper to taste.



Beef & Piernik

The original recipe is Belgian – if fact a recipe from Flandres or Flanders in English.

It is a recipe I adapted from a book I bought in Belgium many years ago.

The recipe is called Carbonnade flamande and uses pain d’ épices to thicken and flavour a beef casserole.

Belgian beer is used in the original recipe – I use Polish beer (piwo) – which is also a light coloured lager beer.

(When I went to my local Polish shop – they did not have the beers I normally use such as  Żywiec or Tyskie, so I used the EB which was there & it was very good).

I use piernik – a Polish honey spice cake instead of the pain d’ épices.


I often slice up part of a piernik I have made and freeze this so I have some ready for this recipe.


500g of braising steak – cubed

2 onions chopped

2 – 3 slices of piernik (depends on the size)

500ml Polish lager

300ml vegetable or chicken stock (NOT BEEF) – can be from cubes or powder

1 bay leaf

Dried Italian herbs

2-3 grains of pepper

Sprinkling of salt

Oil for frying


Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

You need an oven proof casserole dish with a tight fitting lid  – I use an enamelled dish.

Fry the beef lightly and then put this into the casserole dish.



Add the chopped onions, herbs, bay leaf, peppercorns and salt.

Chop the piernik into cubes and add this to the dish




Pour the beer over to cover the ingredients – add some of the stock if necessary.

The rest of the stock is used to top up the dish as it is cooking (this is better than putting it all in at the start).

Cook at GM4 – 180°C, for 1 hour then turn the oven down to GM3 – 160°C and cook for another 2 hours.

More time many be needed or you can take it out and re-heat it at GM4 – 180°C for at least 1 hour the next day.

Serve here with steamed new potatoes.

To compliment the sweetness of this dish serve with something tangy such as

ogórki (gherkins) or a sauerkraut salad.



The word gulasz comes from the Hungarian gulyás and is the word for a casserole or stew.

In Hungary the meat would most likely have been beef but in Poland it is either pork or beef.

When beef is used it is usually called węgierski  – Hungarian style.

As stewing steak used to be more readily available in England than casserole pork my mother made this with beef.

I make this with either beef or pork, both are delicious as the slow cooking and tomato purée give an intense rich flavour.

Classic Gulasz


500g stewing beef or shoulder or spare rib pork

2 onions

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of tomato purée

250ml chicken stock – can be made from stock cubes

2 teaspoons of (sweet) paprika (not smoked)

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons of plain flour

salt & ground black pepper

oil for frying



Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C

Roughly chop the onions and crush the garlic.








Mix the tomato purée and the paprika into the stock.








Cut the meat into cubes and coat the pieces in a mixture of flour, salt and ground pepper.

Beef Coated in Plain Flour, salt & pepper
Beef Coated in Plain Flour, salt & pepper








In a frying pan heat the oil until it is hot and fry the meat until all the sides are sealed.


Place the meat into a casserole dish.

Fry the garlic and onions in the frying pan, adding some oil if necessary but trying not to use too much or the dish will be greasy.








Add the onions to the meat then add the bay leaf and some more ground pepper.

Pour the stock mixture into the casserole dish and put on the lid.








Cook in the oven until the meat is tender, this could be about 3 ½ hours  to  4 ½ hours but often I find it needs  longer.

Classic Beef Gulasz


Serve with potatoes, hefty style pasta or boiled rice as well as salads such as:

If served on top of a large, breakfast plate sized potato pancake this is known as a

węgierski placek  – Hungarian pancake.


Make this a day ahead of when you need it, cook the dish for at least 3 hours and leave it to cool.

The next day cook it again for at least 1 hour, you might have to add a little water or stock but not too much, the sauce should be thick not watery.

Using a slow cooker

Nowadays I often make gulasz using a slow cooker instead of the oven.

I made a gulasz using pork shoulder and cooked it in the slow cooker for 8 hours.




Pork gulasz served in a dish by J & G Meakin Studio Pottery

Unknown Design Name

Luxury Style Gulasz 

All houses in Poland have cellars and even people living in block of flats have a cellar area of their own; if you ever get the chance to look in these you will find that they are filled with: jams, preserves, bottled fruit and vegetables, sauerkraut and salted gherkins.

Bottled sweet red peppers in brine are often found amongst these jars.  The addition of the peppers from one of these jars to the gulasz makes it even better.

Of course if like me you do not have the home-made variety you can buy these from most delicatessens or supermarkets now.

One Of My Two Cellars










You can use fresh red peppers and I use these when they are plentiful, either will make a delicious gulasz but I think I like ones with the bottled peppers best.

The recipe is a variation on the classic gulasz but you have to use less stock or you will end up with it being too watery due the water content of the peppers – especially the fresh ones.


500g stewing beef  or shoulder or spare rib pork

2 onions

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons of tomato purée

150ml chicken stock – can be made from stock cubes

2 teaspoons of (sweet) paprika (not smoked)

1 bay leaf

Jar of bottled red peppers or 3 to 4 fresh red peppers

2 -3 tablespoons of soured cream

2 tablespoons of plain flour

Salt & ground black pepper

Oil for frying

Paprika to dust on the top


Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C

Roughly chop the onions and crush the garlic

Mix the tomato purée and the paprika in the stock

If using the bottled peppers cut them into long strips and then cut these into halves


If using the fresh peppers, cut them into long strips, de-seed them and cut these into halves

Cut the meat into cubes and coat the pieces in a mixture of flour, salt and ground pepper

In a frying pan heat the oil until it is hot and fry the meat until all the sides are sealed

Place the meat into a casserole dish

Fry the garlic and onions in the frying pan, adding some oil if necessary but trying not to use too much or the dish will be greasy

Add the onions to the meat then add the bay leaf and some more ground pepper

Add the peppers to the dish and mix the contents together

Pour the stock mixture into the casserole dish and put on the lid


Cook in the oven until the meat is tender, this could be about 3 ½ to 4 hours but often I find it needs longer.





When you are ready to serve the gulasz, mix in one to two tablespoons of soured cream and then put the other tablespoon of soured cream on top in the centre and dust some extra paprika on this.



Serve as for the classic style gulasz.

Here served in a dish by J & G Meakin – Topic from 1967






Pulpety – Polish Meatballs

The Polish word pulpety comes from the Italian word polpette & that word come from  polpa meaning pulp.

The word polpette has been used in Italy  since the 15th century – though of course meatballs in many forms are to been found in most cultures & countries  and are a way of using every last piece of carcass.

Pulpety in Poland are made from meat or fish – I am just going to cover meat in this post.

Meat pulpety can be made from fresh meat or from cooked meat.  I prefer the fresh meat ones and if I have any  roast meat leftovers I am more likely  to use them up in other ways such as in  Pierogi – Polish Filled Pasta  fillings.

Fresh meat pulpety are very similar to  kotlety mielone.

The difference being that pulpety are very small and they are boiled/simmered not fried.

They are often used as an  accompaniment for soup – with around 4 to 6 being added to a serving of  soup. (There will be much more on the  topic of soup in the future.)

Pulpety can be simmered in water or stock  – I always uses stock – either chicken or vegetable.

Meat pulpety


400g of minced beef or pork or a mixture of the two

1 onion

1 slice of white bread or bread roll, left for half an hour in a bowl with a little milk – do not use the excess milk just the wet slightly squeezed bread.

1 beaten egg

1 teaspoon Italian herbs

Dried breadcrumbs – see Breadcrumbs – Bułka tarta

Salt & pepper

Some flour for your hands for shaping.

Stock / bullion – chicken or vegetable – can be from a stock cube.


Grate the onion on a fine grated or use an electric mini-chopper.









In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together except for the dried breadcrumbs, it is best to do this using both hands, making sure that all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.


Add enough dried breadcrumbs so that it is a firm mixture.







Put some flour in a dish for your hands to make it easier to shape the pulpety.

Pinch off small bits of the meat mixture and roll the piece between your hands to make small round balls and place these onto a floured board or tray whilst you make them all.

You can leave these to chill in a cool place or in the fridge if you have time.









In a large pan heat up some stock and drop the pulpety into the boiling liquid and then let them simmer for around 5 minutes.



Remove them from the liquid with a slotted spoon.



Polish style would be to have around 5 pulpety in a bowl of soup –  but  often I do these for a light lunch and have a large bowl of soup with lots of pulpety per serving.

In the photograph below, they were served in a tomato soup.



Served In A Sauce

The varieties here are endless – make one of your favourite sauces for example mushroom or tomato and drop the cooked pulpety into the sauce and let them simmer.

You can then serve them with potatoes, pasta, rice or to be very Polish – buckwheat.