Swiecone – Polish Easter Brunch
Traditional Savory Treats
By The Polish Chef
The Polish term “Święcone” (pronounced; shfyen-TSAW-neh) can be translated into English as Easter breakfast, brunch or lunch. Here are some of the things that could grace your festive table after Easter Sunday Mass.
EGG SHARING (dzielenie się jajkiem): After grace, wedges of blessed hard-cooked eggs, he symbol of New Life, are shared with loved ones. They may be sprinkled with blessed salt & pepper. After everyone has taken their wedge they wish each other “Wesołego Alleluja” or “Wesołych Świąt” (Happy Easter) and consume it.
EASTER RYEMEAL SOUP (żurek wielkanocny): In pot combine 2 to 2 ½ c diced smoked kielbasa, ham and/or roast pork, 6 c water, 1 quartered onion and several peppercorns. Simmer on low under cover 1 hr. Stir in 2-3 c ryemeal sour* (żur liquid – available bottled at Polish delis), 1 c water in which 1 heaping T flour has been dissolved and ¼ of a mushroom bouillon cube. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 min. Switch off heat, add 1 bud crushed garlic, 1 heaping t prepared horseradish and 1 heaped T marjoram. Stir and salt & pepper to taste. Serve over hard-boiled eggs and ¼ inch slices of cooked kiełbasa. Variation: This soup can also be made with 1 part kiełbasa stock (in which your kiełbasa was cooked) and 1 part water.
*Lacking ryemeal sour, add 2 c water mixed with 2-3 T cider vinegar.
WHITE EASTER BARZSCZ (biały barszcz wielkanocny): In pot combine 3 c water in which fresh or smoked kiełbasa has been cooked with 3 c cold water. Add 2-3 c liquid ryemeal sour,* bring to boil and simmer 5 min. Remove from heat. In small mixing bowl, fork-blend or whisk 1 heaping T flour with ¾ c sour cream until smooth. Add 1 c hot stock 1 T at a time to sour-cream mixture, fork-blending or whisking constantly, then stir mixture into pot. Return to heat and simmer 2-3 min just below boiling point. Serve over hard-cooked eggs and sliced cooked sausage. Cubed farmer cheese, dry rye-bread cubes and horseradish may also be provided.
* If liquid ryemeal sour is not available, add 2 c water mixed with 2-3 T cider vinegar.
COOKING HARD-BOILED EGGS (gotowanie jaj na twardo): Place room-temp eggs in pot and fill with cold water to cover by at least 1 inch. Add a T or so salt. Gradually bring water to boil and immediately reduce heat to medium, cover and cook another 1-2 mins. Switch off heat and leave pot covered 30 mins, then cool under cold running water until longer warm to touch. Refrigerate over night
SERVING-BOILED EGGS (podawanie jaj na twardo):
Serve plain whole or halved hard-cooked eggs, providing horseradish, ćwikła or sauces (see below) on the side. Another way is to arrange halved eggs on lettuce-lined platter and dress with sauce of choice. Garnish with chopped chives. A simple but tasty topping is a small dollop of mayo sprinkled garnished with chopped chives.
EGG & COLD MEAT SAUCES (sosy do jaj i wędlin): An easy but delicious way to create your own sauces is to start by fork-blending ½ c mayonnaise with ½ c sour cream, 1 t prepared brown mustard (Polish Sarepska or German Düsseldorf) and ½ t salt. Use this basic sauce as is or for:
**Easter sauce: stir into basic sauce ½ c chopped chives, green onions, radishes and dill pickle, 1 chopped hard-cooked egg and 1-2 t prepared horseradish;
**horseradish sauce: to 1 c basic sauce stir in 1 heaping T prepared horseradish, 1 t sugar and 1-2 t lemon juice;
**mustard sauce: fork-blend 1 heaping T prepared brown Polish mustard (Polish Sarepska or German Düsseldorf) with 1 c basic sauce.
**Tartar sauce: stir into basic sauce 1 small grated onion, 1 chopped dill pickle, 2-4 chopped pickled mushrooms and 1 t lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste.
BEETROOT & HORSERADISH (ćwikła z chrzanem): Drain 1 12 oz can pickled beets (reserving liquid). Grate coarsely or chop fine and mix with 1-2 heaping T prepared horseradish. Optional: sprinkle with a pinch or 2 ground caraway. This relish as an absolute “must” to accompany traditional Polish Easter food (eggs, ham, sausage, roasts). Note: Use the beet liquid to dye several shelled hard-cooked eggs by keeping them submerged 1 hr. Pat the red eggs dry with paper towel and intersperse them among the white hard-cooked shelled eggs for a colorful accent.
EASTER SALAD (sałatka wielkanocna): Combine 2-3 c cold, cooked, diced potatoes, 1 can drained peas & carrots, 2 cans drained navy beans (or pea-beans), 4 diced dill pickles, 1 bunch chopped green onions, 1 bunch diced radishes, 2 peeled, cored, diced apples and 2 – 5 diced hard-cooked eggs. Toss ingredients gently, season with salt & pepper lace with just enough basic mayonnaise-sour cream sauce (above) to coat ingredients. Garnish with chopped parsley. Note: Feel free to juggle quantities according to preference. Other possible ingredients include: capers, chopped celery, bell pepper, diced beets, a firm diced pear, etc. Refrigerate over night for flavors to blend.
COLD-MEAT PLATTER (półmisek zimnych mięs): On lettuce-lined oval or rectangular serving platters artistically arrange a some or all of the following sliced cold meats: boiled ham, baked ham, smoked pork loin (Canadian bacon,) kabanosy (thin dry sausage), myśliwska (hunter’s sausage), krakowska (Kraków sausage), smoked kiełbasa, baked fresh kiełbasa, boiled bacon (see below) and/or roast pork loin, Jellied pig’s feet (nóżki w galarecie) and headcheese (salceson) may be included. Decorate platters with parsley sprigs, radish roses. pickled mushrooms and/or spiced plums.
BOILED BACON (boczek gotowany): Place 2 ¼ lean slab bacon (smoked or uncooked) into pot, add 1 portion soup greens, 2 buds garlic, 2 bay leaves, several peppercorns and 3 grains allspice and water to more than cover. Bring to boil, reduce heat, skim off scum until no more forms and simmer 80-90 min or until fork tender. Remove bacon, pat dry and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold sliced thin with typical Easter go-togethers. Note: The degreased stock makes a good soup base.
ROAST PORK LOIN (schab pieczony): Mince and mash 2 cloves garlic into a paste with 1 t salt and rub into 3 lb boneless pork loin. Place in roasting pan, cover and let stand at room temp 2 hrs. Remove loin, dust with flour (through sieve) and brown in hot fat on all sides to seal in juices. Place in loin in roaster fat side up on rack and sprinkle with caraway seeds, pepper and marjoram. Roast uncovered at 450° 15 min, then reduce heat to 350°. Add 1 c water to pan and baste occasionally with drippings that form. Roast about 90 min or until liquid that comes out of meat when pricked is white, not pinkish. Remove from oven and cool to room temp. Refrigerate over night and slice when cold. Serve cold on your cold-meat platter or as a hot entrée, using the drippings as a gravy base.
HOME-MADE WHITE KIEŁBASA (biała kiełbasa domowa): If you want to try your hand at making home-made kiełbasa, refrigerate 4.5 lbs pork butts overnight. Next day cut into chunks, grind coarsely. and combine with 1 lb cold ground veal or raw hamburger. Sprinkle with 3 T salt and ½ to 1 t pepper and 2-3 buds crushed garlic. Work by hand, gradually add ½ – ¾ c cold water and continue working until it is completely absorbed. Slip end of hog casing which has been rinsed of salt over sausage-making nozzle of electric or hand-cranked meat-grinder. Stuff casing with meat mixture, twisting into 12” links. Hang up in cool place to air dry several hrs or overnight..Variation: For West Poland kiełbasa [Poznań region], add 1 heaped T marjoram to meat mixture.
BOILED WHITE KIEŁBASA (biała kiełbasa gotowana): Place home-made or store-bought white (fresh, unsmoked) kiełbasa in pot of hot water which should cover it by at least 1”. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer under cover cook at a gentle boil. Add a bay leaf or 2, 1 beef-bouillon cube and 1 large quartered onion and cook 45-60 min or until no longer pink on the inside. Let stand in hot stock covered another 15 min before serving. Note: The kiełbasa stock is a good base for żurek or biały barszcz (see above)
BAKED WHITE KIEŁBASA (biała kiełbasa pieczona): Arrange white (fresh unsmoked) kiełbasa in a single layer in uncovered baking pan. Cover with cold water and bake in 350° oven. Turn sausage over when half the water has evaporated. Scatter wafer-thin onion slices over top and sprinkle with caraway seed. It is ready when all water evaporates and sausage begins to sizzle. Variation: At the start of cooking, replace 1 c of water with beer.
KIEŁBASA & KRAUT (kiełbasa z kapustą): Drain 2 – 3 qts sauerkraut. If very sour, rinse in cold water and drain again. Press out moisture in colander, chop coarsely, place in pot, scald with boiling water to cover, add 1 bay leaf and cook uncovered 45 min. Intersperse about 2 lbs smoked or cooked fresh kiełbasa cut into 2½ ” – 3” pieces, sprinkle with ½ caraway seed and cook covered at least another hr on low. After switching off heat, let stand at least 20 min before serving. It’ll be even better reheated the next day!