BuffaloSpree.com's Recipe of the Week
Bigos, “Hunter’s Stew” and Zürek, “Easter Basket Soup”
Janice Schlau, owner of Prosit Food Truck & Pastries, is also chair of a Polish cookbook produced and sold by St. John Gualbert Church, where she also cooks. She shared several recipes she learned from Father Marcin Porada from Rzeszow, Poland; she often makes them for the rectory.
Bigos, “Hunter’s Stew”
1 or 2 heads cabbage
1 large can sauerkraut
1 pound kielbasa
1 large white onion
1 cup red wine
1 large can of tomato paste
Caraway seeds, freshly ground pepper, dried marjoram (to taste)
Diced smoked ham, boneless pork ribs, sausage
Dice fresh cabbage and cook down for about one hour until translucent. Meanwhile, drain a large can of sauerkraut. Rinse it to the desired flavor, depending on whether you like it very sour or mild. Next, cook a medium dice of kielbasa over low flame with a medium-dice onion.
Season the kraut with caraway seeds to taste, and season the cabbage with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of marjoram. Diced smoked ham, boneless pork ribs, and other sausage(s) may be added at this point, as well. Make sure all meats are well cooked and tender.
Incorporate all ingredients into a large, heavy pot, add red wine and tomato paste and stir. Over medium/low heat, cook for about 1 hour.
Zürek, “Easter Basket Soup”
“Zurek is a traditional soup of Poland served at Easter time,” Schlau explains. “It brings together items you would pack in a basket to be blessed before Easter Sunday. Father Marcin had to call his mom in Poland to get the recipe.”
2-3 hard boiled eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 container Sour Soup base (Krakus Zurek is one brand)
Dried Polish mushrooms
Salt, freshly ground pepper, and marjoram (to taste)
Additional meats such as bacon or ham (to taste)
Boil one pound of fresh Polish sausage in a little water (just enough to cover) until cooked through. Reserve the liquid, and, once the sausage is cool, cut it into 1-inch slices.
Meanwhile, reconstitute the mushrooms in some boiling water. Only use a few; they’re expensive and potent. Stir the soup base and sour cream into the sausage water. Dice the mushrooms when plump, and add to the sausage.
Season the soup with salt, freshly ground pepper, and marjoram. Other smoked meats can be added, to taste. Heat through.
Place the hard boiled eggs in a large bowl, and pour the soup on top. Serve with rye bread for an Easter morning flavor.
(for the cooking averse)
To make this popular Polish street food, prepare a loaf of soft French or Italian bread, or buy a loaf and cut it in half. Smear with crushed tomatoes, slightly sautéed mushrooms, cheese, and whatever spices you have on hand. Broil or bake until the cheese is bubbly, and serve hot. Na zdrowie!
For more recipes, the St. Gualbert cookbook will be available at the church after Easter. St. Gualbert is located at 83 Gualbert Ave., Cheektowaga, and can be reached at 892-5746.
Lizz Schumer writes for the Buffalo News and Spree and teaches journalism at Canisius College.