Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Adult Beverages - Polish Style

WITAMY!  Poles love to eat!  And we love to drink as well.  Truth be told, much of the traditional food goes better when served with a little adult beverage.  A nice robust red wine, a cold Polish beer or an ice-cold shot of Polish vodka go so well with Hunters Stew (Bigos), the signature dish in our book on page 45, or other comfort food that warms your soul.  When enjoyed responsibly and in moderation, a little alcohol with your food helps the digestion and enhances the flavors...but always in moderation! 

Poles have always enjoyed their brandies, cordials, flavored vodkas and similar drinks.  Some of the well known varieties include:  Zubrówka (buffalo grass vodka),  Jarzembiak, (rowan berry flavored brandy),  Pieprzowa (pepper vodka), or Citrinówka (citrus flavored vodka).  My Dad loved to infuse lemon peel or orange peel in vodka, and the results were delicious - not so strong as Limoncello, but distinct and enjoyable as well.  There are a lot of flavored vodkas from many countries  on the market today, but I always thought the idea of making my own was much more appealing.  It’s really easy and they taste great.  They’re a great conversation starter at parties, and the projects leave you with a sense of satisfaction after being enjoyed by your guests.

Here are recipes for two very traditional Polish liquors.  Start them now and they’ll be ready for a great Christmas treat with your holiday meals. 


ŚLIWÓWKA – Christmas Plum Liquor
2 quarts vodka – 100 proof if you have it
1 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
2 to 3 quarts plums, not fully ripe (Italian plums are great)
4 whole cloves

Start this now, while there are plums in the stores.  Rinse the plums, cut in half, remove the pits and place them in a sterilized one gallon jar.  Pour one half of the vodka into a large sauce pan.  Warm up the vodka slowly and add the cloves and cinnamon sticks.  Stir in the sugar slowly and completely dissolve by whisking or stirring.  Let the vodka cool to room temperature, then pour into the jar over the plums.  Add remaining vodka.  Seal the jar tightly and place it in a dark place such as a pantry or closet.  Forget about it for one to three months.  Break it open for Christmas and serve in small liquor glasses as an aperitif with sweets.  (Save the plums if you wish to add a few pieces to your traditional Christmas compote).  Smacznego!


WIŚNIAK – Cherry Liquor
½ pound fresh dark cherries
1 cup sugar
2 cups quality vodka

Slit each cherry on two sides and remove the pits.  Place cherries in a sterilized 1 quart jar.  Pour the sugar over the cherries (do not stir or shake the jar).  Slowly add the vodka down the side of the jar until full, but leave a ½ inch space at the top.  Make sure the cherries are completely covered with vodka, but again do not stir or shake the mixture.  Seal the jar tightly and put in the pantry or closet at room temperature for 3 months.  After 3 months strain the liquor and it is ready to serve in small liquor glasses.  Keep the cherries if you wish for a tasty compote with a kick.  Smacznego

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