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Feb 29, 2024

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Polish Mardi-Gras Entertaining

[print_this]By The Polish Chef – Robert Strybel

Here are some favorite Polish delicacies to serve at your Mardi Gras ball, mid-winter dinner-dance, Pączki party, parish supper or other pre-Lenten meet-up.

BREADED CHICKEN ROLL-UPS (zrazy zawijane z kurczęcia): Pound 4 skinned and halved chicken breasts on both sides into 8 cutlets 1/4” thick. Thinly spread each cutlet with powidła and a sprinkle with salt, pepper and marjoram. Roll cutlets up from wider towards narrower end. Coat in flour, dip in egg wash and roll in bread crumbs, gently shaking off excess. Place seam-side-down in hot butter or oil to seal. Brown on all sides, then reduce heat and simmer another 8-10 min or until fully cooked. Drain on absorbent paper and serve at once with rice and sliced cucumbers and dressed with sour cream.

HUNTER STYLE ROAST CHICKEN (kurczę po myśliwsku): Wash and pat dry, whole 3-lb broiler-fryer. Rub inside and out with salt, pepper, about 1/2 t ground juniper (in Polish: jałowiec), 1 T marjoram and 2 crushed buds garlic. Rub outside of chicken with 1 T oil. bake in uncovered baking pan in pre-heated 450° oven for 10 min., then reduce heat to 350°. Mix 1/3 c powidła (Polish plum butter) with equal part boiling water and brush chicken all over with mixture, adding remaining plum sauce to cavity. Pour 1 c water into bottom of pan and bake about 1-1/4 hrs or until done, basting occasionally with pan drippings.   After 45-50 min. of baking, add 12 small peeled potatoes 2- 3 carrots, 6 small onions and bake until veggies are tender.

HUNTER’S STEW (bigos stew): Drain 3 qts sauerkraut, rinse in cold water, drain again, squeeze dry and chop coarsely. Place in pot with 1 bay leaf, cover with cold water and cook uncovered about 60 min, stirring occasionally. Transfer drained sauerkraut to baking pan and add some or all of the following: 2 qts various cooked cubed meat (beef, venison or other game, pork, veal, turkey, duck), 3 c smoked Polish sausage (or other deboned, cubed smoked meat like ham, ribs, hocks), 1 mushroom bouillon cube, 1 c stewed tomatoes, chopped, 1 c pitted prunes, chopped, 1/2 c dry red wine, 2 buds crushed garlic, 2 diced large cooking apples, peeled and diced. Mix ingredients and bake uncovered in 350° oven 30 min. Mix again, cover pan and bake another 2 hrs at 325°. After switching off heat, leave bigos covered in oven until it cools to room temp. Refrigerate over night. Reheat at 350° for 90 min before serving. If too moist, pour off some of the liquid and stir in a T or more flour, mix well and bake another 15 min. Serve with rye bread or potatoes.

GOŁĄBKI/STUFFED CABBAGE (gołąbki): Combine 1-1/2 lbs raw ground meat (pork, pork & beef, pork-veal-beef combination, or ground dark-meat turkey) with 3-4 c undercooked rice, 1-3 chopped butter-fried onions and 1 egg. Mix ingredients by hand and salt & pepper to taste. Other seasonings can include: 2-3 dashes of garlic powder and/or Tabasco, or a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley or dill. Use meat-rice mixture to fill pre-wilted cabbage leaves. Before filling and rolling, cut out or shave down the thick central vein near the base of the cabbage leaves. Place gołąbki snugly in roaster no more than 2 layers and drench with 3 c tomato juice (plain or containing /2 c spicy-style ketchup). Bake covered in preheated 350° oven 1 hr. Reduce heat to 325° and cook another 90 min. Switch off heat and leave in oven until cooled to room temp. Refrigerate overnight, as they are best reheated.

PIEROGI DOUGH (ciasto na pierogi):
Combine 2 c flour, 1 c dairy sour cream, 1 small egg and 1/2 t salt. Work ingredients together to form a smooth dough and knead briefly. Roll out and On lightly floured board, roll out thin 1/3 of the dough, leaving the remainder under a warm inverted bowl so it doesn’t dry out. With drinking-glass or biscuit-cutter cut dough-sheet into rounds. Place a spoonful of filling just off center of each dough round, cover filling with larger dough flap and pinch edges together to seal. This recipe produces an extremely nice and soft dough which does not get tough even if the cooked pierogi are later refried.

MEAT-FILLED PIEROGI (pierogi z mięsem): Soak a crumbled-up stale bread roll in water. Dice 1” square pork fatback and brown lightly with 2 finely chopped onions. Grind 1 lb cooked (boiled or roast) beef together with the onions and squeezed-out roll. Mix well and salt & pepper to taste. Add 2 T bouillon if very dry. Other cooked meats (pork, veal, dark-meat turkey, etc.) can also be used instead of or together with the cooked beef. Serve garnished with skwarki, or fried chopped onions.

PĄCZKI/POLISH DONUTS (pączki): Stir in to dissolve 2 packets active dry yeast in 1-1/2 c warm (110°) milk and set aside. Cream ½ c sugar and 1 stick butter by hand or with paddle attachment of mixer until fluffy. Beat in 1 large egg and 3 large yolks at room temp 3 large room-temperature egg yolks, 1 t salt and 1 T cognac, rum or vodka brandy and salt until all ingredients are incorporated. Gradually add 4-1/2 cups flour alternating with milk-yeast mixture and beat for 5 min or longer until air blisdters appear. If dough appears too soft, work in up to ½ c more flour. Transfer dough to greased bowl, cover with tea towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch down and let rise again. Turn dough out onto lightly floured board amd roll out to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut rounds with 3-inch biscuit cutter or tumbler. Combine leftover dough scraps into a ball, roll out and cut into additional rounds. Cover and let rise until doubled (30 min or more). In deep skillet, pot or Dutch oven heat lard or oil to 350°. Place pączki top-side down hot fat a few at a time so as niot to crowd and fry 2 to 3 min or until bottom is golden brown. Flip over and fry another 1-2 min or until golden brown. Drain pączki on paper towel. When cooled to room temp poke sides of pączki with nozzle of pastry bag and fill with powidła (plum butter), rose-hip jam or other thick jam of choice. Glaze with white icing and sprinkle with finely chopped candied orange rind. Or, simply dust with confectioner’s sugar. Wacth pączki being prepared at:

FAWORKI/CHRUST/CHRUŚCKI (angelwings): In mixer bowl combine 5 large egg yolks and 1 large whole egg at room temp with ½ t salt and beat at high speed until thick and lemony (about 5 min). Beat in ¼ c confectioner’s sugar, ¼ c sour cream, 1 t vanilla and 1 T cognac, rum, vodka or 6% distilled vinegar. Gradually add 2 c flour or enough to form a soft, cohesive dough, working in a bit more flour until no longer sticky. Turn out onto a floured board, divide in half, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 20 min. Roll out each half at a time to a thickness of 1/8 inch and cut into 1 x 3 inch wide strips. Make a 1 inch slit down the center of each dough strip and pull one end through the slit. In deep skillet or pot to heat enough lard* to 350° to achieve a depth of 2-3 inches. Fry faworki in hot lard a few at a time so as not to crowd about 1 min per side or until golden. Transfer to papwer towel and dust with confectioner’s sugar.

*Frying in lard the traditonal way produces tastier chruścicki than those fried in oil or vegetable shortening. Yes, lard is high in cholesterol but as a once-a-year treat it shouldn’t kill you! NOTE: You can watch faworki being made by a PolAm cook at: