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.

 

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.

Pasztet – Pâté

Most Polish households have their own recipe for  pasztet.

Pasztet translates as pâté and is made with liver and other meats,  both cooked and uncooked, often with smoked bacon.  Left over cooked meats can be used.

Pasztet is a baked pâté – more a terrine & usually the sort of pâté you slice rather than spread. (A sort of liver based meat loaf).

 

 

Many recipes use rabbit but I have not included this as it is not as readily available but  I hope try this in the future.

Pork shoulder is good to use and this can be casseroled first in a chicken or vegetable stock or left over from a roast.

Cooked chicken can be roasted or poached once again in a chicken or vegetable stock.

It is good if you have a mincer to mince the meat, however I do not have one and have used a stick blender to blend the liver and a sharp knife to finely chop the cooked meat and bacon.

Pasztet is often cooked in a  loaf tin – but I thought my quantities looked too large for my tin and have used a rectangular Pyrex dish – 19 x 24 x 8cm.

The cooking times quoted are approximate  – it will depend on the amount of mixture and the depth in the dish.

Recipe 1

Country Style Pasztet

The original recipe used finely chopped shoulder pork – I used minced outdoor breed pork.

I used smoked streaky bacon as Polish bacon tends to be fatter than English bacon and this is the nearest.

The amounts of meats does not have to be exact.

Ingredients

500g minced pork

350 streaky bacon (rind removed)

350 – 450g of chicken livers

3 eggs

3 tablespoons of dried breadcrumbs

2 cloves of garlic  – chopped fine

1 teaspoon of Italian herbs or marjoram

Salt – maybe a little but often the bacon is salty enough

Pepper

Butter for greasing the dish.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.

Chop the bacon into small squares.

Blend the chicken livers using a small blender or stick blender.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

 

 

Butter the dish well.

Place the mixture into the dish and smooth down the top.

Cover the dish with foil.

Place the dish in a roasting tin with added water.

Cook for around 70 minutes.

Remove the foil and cook for a further hour without the foil (more if necessary).

Leave to cool completely and then refrigerate for several hours.

Slice to serve.

 

Decorated here with fresh bay leaves – you can use parsley or similar.

Recipe 2

Chicken Pasztet

Any poultry can be used here – this is good way to use up roast turkey – you can even freeze the cooked turkey meat for a pasztet in the future.

Ingredients

450g chicken livers

3 onions

6 tablespoons of butter

600 – 700g of cooked chicken meat (I used breast meat as that is what I had – but thigh meat  would or a mixture is also good)

Dilute vegetable stock (can be from a cube or powder)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of Italian herbs or marjoram

1 teaspoon of sweet paprika

Salt and pepper

Method

Slice the onions and fry them till soften in the butter.

Add the chicken livers and cook them through.

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Leave to cool completely.

Blend the liver and onions – I used a stick blender.

Place the cooked chicken in a pan and cover with dilute vegetable stock and simmer gently , stirring often.

You want the meat to be soft and falling apart and the liquid to have been absorbed.

Leave to cool completely.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.

Chop the meat as finely as possible.

 

 

Mix the meat and liver together.

Add the eggs, Italian herbs & sweet paprika.

Add salt and pepper.

Butter the dish well.

Place the mixture into the dish and smooth down the top.

Cover the dish with foil.

Place the dish in a roasting tin with added water.

Cook for around 1 hour.

Remove the foil and cook for a further hour without the foil (more if necessary).

Leave to cool completely and then refrigerate for several hours.

Slice to serve.

Served on a dish – Made in England by H & K Tunstall

Recipe 3

Pork Pasztet

600 – 700g cooked pork (from a casserole or roast)

Dilute vegetable stock (can be from a cube or powder)

250g smoked bacon (rind removed)

250g pork, veal or chicken livers

1 large onion

4 tablespoons of butter & extra for greasing the dish.

3 eggs

6 tablespoons of dried breadcrumbs & extra for the baking dish and top

250ml of milk

2 teaspoons of Italian herbs or marjoram

1 teaspoon of sweet paprika

Salt & Pepper

Method

Place the cooked pork in a pan and cover with dilute vegetable stock and simmer gently, stirring often.

Chop the bacon into small squares and add to the pork and simmer for another 20 minutes.

You want the meat to be soft and falling apart and the liquid to have been absorbed.

Leave to cool completely.

Chop the meat as finely as possible.

Slice the onion and fry it till softened in the butter.

Add the liver and cook it through.

Sprinkle with salt.

Leave to cool completely.

Blend the liver and onion –  I used a stick blender.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.

In a large bowl throughly mix all the ingredients together.

Butter the dish and sprinkle with dried breadcrumbs.

Place the mixture into the dish and smooth the top with a spoon.

Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover the dish with foil.

Place the dish in a roasting tin with added water.

Cook for around 80 minutes.

Remove the foil and cook for a further hour without the foil (more if necessary).

 

 

 

 

 

Leave to cool completely and then refrigerate for several hours.

Slice to serve.

Served on a dish by Portmeirion – Dawn Chorus – designed by Sophie Conran in the 21st century.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Buckwheat

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) is gryka  in Polish – and I have written already about the use of its flour to make bliny & pancakes.

Buckwheat is not a grain but a seed – however  it is classed under grains for culinary purposes.

The small triangular seeds have a strong scent which is quite distinctive.

In the United States – they are called groats.

Kasza porridge – is very popular in Poland and refers to grains or seeds boiled in water or milk – usually served salted  – rather than sweet.

Kasza gryczanna is cooked buckwheat and  was eaten in Poland long before the introduction of the potato in the 18th century

You can get  buckwheat grains  which are roasted or not roasted.

You can get loose grains & if you are cooking these you need twice as much water by volume as the buckwheat and you simmer this gently with a lid on the pan, until all the water is absorbed.

Then add a large knob of butter (or bacon fat) and place this in an oven-proof dish with a lid or covered in foil and placed in a low oven for at least 20 minutes.

Note

In olden times the dish could be covered with a pillow or small duvet to keep it warm for hours – so it could be prepared early on for eating later.

This is similar to using a hay box which was much used in England in earlier times.

An easy way of cooking the buckwheat is to use the boil in the bag method.

You can buy packets of buckwheat which come in 4 x 100g perforated bags.

Place the bag in 1 litre of salted boiling water and simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes.

 

Then empty the grains out of the bag and add a large knob of butter and place this in an oven-proof dish with a lid or covered in foil and place in a low oven for at least 20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Because of the distinctive strong taste of the buckwheat it is best served with food with “robust” flavours such as beef or pork gulasz.

 

You can reheat the boiled buckwheat by frying it gently in butter, with fried onion or with skwarki*.

 

 

 

*Skwarki

Skwarki are crisp smoked bacon bits. My mother would use streaky bacon and cut this into little squares and heat them in a frying pan so all the fat would come out.

Other people might use a more fatty, smoked belly pork to make skwarki.

This smoked streaky bacon was quite lean!

 

 

Are lardons the same as skwarki?

I have been trying to get a definitive answer to this for ages!

Well  – Yes & No or They can be!

As I understand it lardons are cubes of pork belly which may or may not be smoked.

Swarki for me will always be smoked and the pieces are small flat pieces rather than cubed.