World Cooking – Poland

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Poland
Progress: 31/193

Poland isn’t one of those countries that I originally thought I would be doing for a long time. After all, I’ve been there fairly recently and there are still 160+ nations to make dinners for. However, as I mentioned in my post for Court and Spark it’s New Year’s Eve and tradition dictates that I cook something special. In 2017 I went Italian with the Zampone (filled pig’s trotter) and for 2018 it was French when I made pork belly with pearl barley flageolets. Since three things make a pattern, why not make something Polish for New Year’s 2019.

During my trip to Krakow I really fell for Polish food, mainly because it speaks to my genetic history… and also because everything I had over there was delicious. When I found out a favourite dish of mine was something that would be made for this time of year (which makes sense as it’s hearty and warming) I knew that I would have to make this.

Also, since this is a large enough country when it comes to food, I wanted to make my first dessert since the Sbrisolona for Italy. There were so many options to go for, with the main one already being internally earmarked for when I cook for Hungary. I ended up picking something that leaned in to the traditions I came to know from my Dutch in-laws, whilst still being Polish. Needless to say, despite being exhausted after not a lot of sleep, the food turned out great today.

Main: Bigos

I had Bigos on my first night in Krakow, whilst the hub went on to have it a further two times. It’s one of those quintessentially Polish stews that probably has as many recipe variations as there are Polish settlements. It was really hard to get a handle on a proper way to make it, so I went with a recipe by the Hairy Bikers as it tallied with the recipe I found in the cookbook I bought in Poland – except it used pork belly instead of feet.

The smell of this dish is just beautiful. It’s like a smokey and less spicy version of the Korean army stew, but also with that savoury hint of caraway. It’s also one of those dishes that is deceptively filling, but I guess the rye bread we had with it will have helped satiate out appetites. I was also surprised how much cabbage went into this rather than just straight sauerkraut… and just how much a difference the addition of the soaked mushroom water made to the umami nature of the dish.

We had this re-heated for dinner (which was even better than when fresh) and I already know exactly when I plan to make this again. This may be my heritage talking, but this was an unqualified success.

Dessert: Racuchy z jabłkami

When I’ve been to the Netherlands for New Years there’s always Oliebollen (Dutch donuts with raisins) and apple fritters on offer. So, when I found this recipe for Polish Apple Pancakes at Curious Cusiniere it felt like I’d found the perfect thing for this time of year.

These are yeasted pancakes, which means that they have the texture of a pancake combined with a fritter. It also means that the batter is super thick and sticky, this requiring me to use a sharp knife to remove stuck pancake from my spatula. They were thick and had just the right amount of chew, the apple providing a tart hint of sweetness. I also opted to make a cinnamon powdered sugar to go over them because what’s a better match made in heaven than apple and cinnamon.

Like with the bigos I already have plans to make these again, but I am going to further going to Dutch them up by making them apple and raisin pancakes with some cinnamon in the batter itself. That should work, and if it doesn’t it’ll still be a delicious failure.

Right, so I am back in the position where I have no idea where my next country is going to be. Statistics tell me that it needs to be from Oceania… so I guess I’ll need to find a recipe for one of the Pacific islands. There’s a few I’m tossing about, but they’ll depend on my finding some suitable fish or a place to buy banana leaves. Guess it’s time to do some research.

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