Friday, May 25, 2012

Kielbasa Time

This post was adapted from a newsletter by our favorite Polish market - Kielbasa Factory, in Rockville MD.

Witamy!  Kielbasa is an iconic Polish word that describes a traditional sausage. A staple of Polish cuisine, kielbasa comes in several of varieties of primarily smoked or fresh cooked lean pork, also available in beef, chicken, turkey, and veal. Every region of Poland has its own unique ingredients and recipes. The most popular are:

Kabanosy – a very thin, air-dried smoked sausage (referred to by some as a Polish slim jim);

Kielbasa Szynkowa – a very thick smoked sausage made from ham;
Kielbasa Krakowska – from Krakow, a thick, straight, smoked sausage with garlic and pepper, a favorite of Polish Kings;

Biala Kielbasa – a famous un-smoked fresh sausage traditionally used as an accompaniment to White Barszcz, a traditional Polish soup prepared for Easter;

Kielbasa Starowiejska – “old-country style, ”a smoked thin sausage made using a very old, traditional recipe;

Kielbasa Wiejska – a country-style sausage shaped like a large U made primarily from pork or a mix of pork and veal, with marjoram and garlic;

Parówki – a Polish style hot dog made from veal or pork, best served hot. 

The best Polish-style kielbasa uses only the choicest cuts of tender pork with a little beef or veal added to improve its body and character.  Typically, no preservatives are added.  The sausage is seasoned with fresh herbs and spices and then gently smoked, just long enough to achieve the right color, flavor and aroma.  It is good for breakfast, lunch, dinner; snack time or any time!
Kielbasa can be served cold or hot, boiled, baked, grilled, or right out of the fridge.  It can be cooked in soups such as Barszcz, Kapusniak (Cabbage Soup), or Grochówka (Bean Soup), baked with sauerkraut or added to bean dishes, stews (notably Bigos or Hunter Stew which is the signature dish of our book.  Often kielbasa is served with Cwikła, a traditional garnish of shredded beets and horseradish.  Our book contains many heritage recipes that make great use of kielbasa.

It’s easy to buy a mass-produced kielbasa at the big grocery stores, but the flavors just don’t measure up to the authentic Polish-style varieties available at Polish delis such as Kielbasa Factory.

2 cans of red beets, drained and shredded in a food processor
5 ounces of prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon of sugar
Combine everything, place in a sealed glass jar and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to really integrate.  Taste...add more horseradish if your palate can take it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Barszcz For Spring

Witamy!  There are a “gazillion” recipes for Barszcz.  It seems that every region, town and village in Poland has its own version.  And very often there are different versions favored at different times of the year.  The elegant holiday variety is essentially a beet consommé, quite peppery, and sipped from delicate china teacups, as an accompaniment to the delicacies consumed at Christmas or Easter.  Then you have your more hearty versions chock full of leafy vegetables, beans, dices of cooked pork, and whatever was on hand that day.  These were especially popular in the country when hard working farmers needed fuel to get through the day. 

 This version is somewhere in between – more filling than a cup of broth, but just filling enough to serve on a bright and sunny spring day.  A hunk of fresh rye bread smeared with sweet butter, and a bowl of Spring Barszcz, is all you need for lunch or a light supper.  

Serves 81 bunch of fresh young beets with leaves, washed and diced
2 cups water
1 teaspoon vinegar
4 cups beef or chicken broth
2 tablespoons flour
¼ cup cold water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped green parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill, or more to taste
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup sour cream
2  hardboiled eggs, sliced

Cook beets in the water and vinegar for 10 minutes or until tender. Add the broth and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the flour mixed with ¼ cup cold water. (For more "heft"  you could add half a cup of your favorite chopped greens or   cooked  beans). Stir and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Season with lemon juice, sugar, salt & pepper.  Add the dill, parsley, green onion, butter and sour cream.  Ladle into soup bowls.  Float egg slices on top and serve.