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.

Pasta Salads

The general word for pasta in Polish is makaron .. from the Italian macaroni or maccheroni which is thought to originate from the Greek makariafood made from barley.

You need some cooked pasta – small shapes are the best – I often use Fiorelli – little tubes with lacy edges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I am cooking some pasta for a meal,  I often do a bit more so I have some left to make a salad the next day.

Try not to over cook the pasta.

The weight of dry pasta will result in around double the weight of cooked pasta  eg 250g of dry pasta will result in around 500g of cooked pasta.

I find that mayonnaise or mayonnaise based dressing  are best with these salads.

Cooked vegetables work well with these salads and also tinned or bottled vegetables and so it is a good store cupboard dish.

Below are several ideas – but you can do many variations – I always use a few different colours to make it look attractive.

Pasta, Peppers & Sweetcorn Salad

Ingredients

400 – 500g cold cooked pasta.

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

1 or 2  fresh red peppers or 2-3 pieces of  bottled peppers.

1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Salt & ground back pepper

20171108_094335

 

IMG_20150819_064345546

 

Method

In a large bowl mix the pasta and sweetcorn together.

If using fresh peppers then remove the stalk and the seeds and chop the flesh into small pieces.

Blanch the peppers by putting them in a dish with boiling water and letting them stand for about 10 minutes then drain and pat dry.

 

 

 

If using bottled peppers then drain them from the liquid and cut into small pieces.

Add the peppers to the salad mixture.

Mix in the mayonnaise.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

 

Pasta, Peas, Peppers  & Sweetcorn Salad

Ingredients

400 – 500g cold cooked pasta.

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

1 or 2  fresh red peppers or 2-3 pieces of  bottled pepper

150g of cooked frozen peas

1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Salt & ground back pepper.

Method

Make the salad as above then add the cooked peas and mix well

 

 

Pasta, Peppers & Sweetcorn Salad with Tuna

400 – 500g cold cooked pasta.

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

1 or 2  fresh red peppers or 2-3 pieces of  bottled peppers.

1  x  145g tin of tuna chunks in oil or brine – drained

1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (variation –  add half a teaspoon of tomato puree or even hot pepper sauce)

Salt & pepper to taste – you will need less salt if you are using the tuna in brine.

Method

Make the salad as in Pasta, Peppers & Sweetcorn Salad up to the addition of the mayonnaise.

Break up the tuna into smaller pieces and add this to the salad and mix it in.

Add the mayonnaise.

Salt & pepper to taste – (you will need less salt if you are using the tuna in brine).

20180114_165443

Variations

Add some chopped chillies to the mixture – I use  green ones to differentiate them from the red peppers.

Pasta, Peas, Peppers & Sweetcorn Salad with Tuna

Ingredients

400 – 500g cold cooked pasta.

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

1 or 2  fresh red peppers or 2-3 pieces of  bottled pepper

150g of cooked frozen peas

1  x  145g tin of tuna chunks in oil or brine – drained

1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Salt & ground back pepper.

Method

Make the salad as in Pasta, Peas, Peppers,  & Sweetcorn Salad

Break up the tuna into smaller pieces and add this to the salad. and mix it in

Salt & pepper to taste – (you will need less salt if you are using the tuna in brine).

20180114_170929

Pasta, Peas, Peppers & Sweetcorn Salad with Polish Smoked Sausage.

Ingredients

400 – 500g cold cooked pasta.

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

1 or 2  fresh red peppers or 2-3 pieces of  bottled pepper

150g of cooked frozen peas

200g of Polish smoked sausage or ham

1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Salt & ground back pepper

Method

Make the salad as in Pasta, Peas, Peppers & Sweetcorn Salad.

Slice the sausage into thin slices and then chop these into halves and quarters.

Add this is to the salad and mix in

Salt & pepper to taste.

IMG_20160302_063114078

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20180114_171331

 

 

 

Hard Boiled Egg Garnish

1 or 2 hard boiled eggs can be chopped and used to garnish the tuna or smoked sausage salads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

kapusta 3

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.

Bigos

Bigos is often called Poland’s national dish. It is served at every large gathering: christenings, weddings, funerals and every other excuse for getting together for food and drink. It is best made in advance by at least a day and then reheated. My father used to talk about using a horse and cart to take large wooden barrels of bigos to where there was going to be a celebration.

It is Poland’s sweet and sour dish using sweet (fresh) cabbage and sour (sauerkraut) cabbage. How sweet and sour you make it depends on taste, I always use roughly equal amounts of fresh and sour cabbage – a large white cabbage to a large tin or jar of sauerkraut. You can add sugar or some lemon juice to alter the sweet/sour balance.

This was a Hunter’s stew with all the meat and game that was available in the long hard winters going into the pot with the cabbage. A variety of mixed fresh and smoked meats and sausages are used, the amount can vary with how much meat you have.

Served with rye bread with or without butter and a glass of beer or vodka, it is delicious.

The mixture of cabbage and tomato in bigos is very Polish, as a little girl I thought that cooked cabbage was always orange to red rather that pale to dark green as my mother always used the two together in all her cabbage recipes.

Tomatoes were brought to Poland in the 16th century by the Italian chefs who came with the Italian Princess Bona Sforza who married the Polish King, Zygmunt the Old. The Polish word for tomato – pomidor, shows its Italian origin.

Getting Ready to Cook Bigos
Getting Ready to Cook Bigos
Dried Mushrooms
Dried Mushrooms

IMG_20150704_125955216

Enamel Pans
Enamel Pans
Enamel Pans
Enamel Pans

I have many of these enamel pans they are good for slow cooking in the oven.

Bigos
Bigos
Bigos
Bigos
Serving up Bigos
Serving up Bigos

Traditional Bigos

There are lots of variations you can make to the following recipe and everyone seems to have their own version. I find the following proportions work out very well every time and the bigos is moist but not like a soup.

This makes a large amount which is good for a family gathering.

Often I make this in advance and then portion it up into 4 parts and then pack these into large plastic bags or tubs and freeze them – so I always have some on hand.  Note – the tomato stains the plastic tubs so I often put a bag inside a tub. I also then wrap the tub in another bag as the aroma is strong even when frozen and this stops it affecting other food in the freezer.

Ingredients

900g sauerkraut (1large tin or jar)

500g fresh white cabbage (1 large head)

200g to 400g Pork (shoulder or spare rib)

150 to 300g mixed smoked sausage such as kabanos, Polish ring or Frankfurters

150g smoked bacon

1 large onion

10g dried mushrooms

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.

Put the sauerkraut in a large pan and add boiling water until it is covered and boil gently for 1 hour till it is soft. Take care not to let it boil dry and push the sauerkraut down occasionally so it stays under the water.

Finely chop the fresh cabbage into long strands and place in another large pan with the dried mushrooms, add water to cover the cabbage and boil till soft and as with the sauerkraut take care it does not boil dry.

Pre heat the oven to GM3– 150o C

Chop the pork into small cubes and fry till brown on all sides.

Chop the bacon into small squares.

Add 100g of the bacon and all the pork to the sauerkraut and boil gently till everything is soft.

Make crisp skwarki* with the rest of the bacon and add to the sauerkraut.

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

Add the cooked fresh cabbage with all the liquid and the fried onion mixture to the sauerkraut.

Slice up the various smoked sausage and add to the bigos.

Add the tomato purée, bay leaves and peppercorns.

You can add some sugar or lemon juice at this stage; this depends on how sour you like the bigos and often depends on the sauerkraut used. I rarely do either of these.

Now you can heat it all together gently over a low heat with a lid on the pan or put the mixture into a large oven proof dish; I use a large oval enamelled dish, and put it in the oven for about 3 hours.

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

*skwarki – small squares of bacon fried till the fat comes out and you are left with little crisp bits.