poland

Hi everyone, and welcome to 2018! It’s downright chilly across the US today, so let’s enjoy some stew.

Bigos is a Hunter’s Stew most associated with Poland, but likely of German origin. This dish, in one form or another, has been a part of Eastern European cuisine since at least the Middle Ages. The stew derives most of its flavor from a combination of meats, sausage, sauerkraut, cabbage, and mushrooms. I’ve found that adding dried plums (prunes) to the mixture adds a light sweetness to the dish that perfectly balances the sauerkraut.

It is likely that the original version of this dish was mostly meat, and reserved for the upper nobility; sauerkraut and cabbage were added to stretch out the meal, but eventually were incorporated into all preparations. Today, there remains significant variation of this dish – it is said that there are as many variations of Bigos as there are cooks in Poland.

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I wanted to come up with a special Easter dish this year, but I quickly realized that I couldn’t use your standard Easter meal ideas; I’ve already posted recipes for ham and lamb roasts this year. Instead, I settled on a traditional Polish Easter Soup called Żurek (also often referred to as Biały Barszcz – “White Borscht”). This soup uses a combination of pork (kielbasa sausage, ham, or in our case, bacon), boiled eggs, and veggies in a slightly sour and creamy (hence the “white”) broth.

There are quite a few challenges with creating a grain-free version of this soup. First of all, the soup is traditionally made by soaking and fermenting/souring rye bread as a soup starter. Instead, we’re going to create a “sour” taste by using another popular method – horseradish and sour cream. Żurek is also traditionally served in a rye bread bowl or with large chunks of rye bread as an accompaniment. We’re just going to omit that whole rye bread part; it didn’t make this soup any less delicious!

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