Mushroom gathering in Poland is a National pastime and has been in the past, a source of food and income for many.
Mushrooms can be dried, pickled, salted and marinated.
On those damp misty days in autumn when in England people would think – what a dull day, a Pole would wake up and think – Great, a good day for gathering mushrooms!
Most Poles think the best dried mushrooms are Boletus edulis, in Poland they are called borowik, prawdzik or prawdziwek(translates as – the real thing!), in Italy porcini and I try and use these whenever I can.
Packets of dried mushroom in England tend to be 25g or 30g and can be of mixed types.
My father knew all about mushrooms but never really passed the knowledge on to me – mainly because of the limited availbility of transport to suitable woods around where we lived in Lancashire.
On my first visit to Poland I did go to Białowieża forest and went with a guide and collected lots of mushrooms including chanterelles which in Poland are called kurki.
Nowadays, the common field mushroom – Agaricus bisporus – is produced on a huge scale and makes up a large part of commercial mushroom production with Poland being the 3rd biggest producer in Europe, following Italy and The Netherlands.
Mushroom soup in olden days was nearly always made with just dried mushrooms.
I make my soup with both dried and fresh mushrooms.
As with all soups the quantities do not have to be exact.
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 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