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Polish Easter Brunch

By on March 28, 2021

HARD-BOILING EGGS (gotowanie jaj na twardo)
First, place the fresh eggs in a large pot or bowl of cold water. For eating, use only those which lie on their side – those are the freshest! Those that stand up but still touch bottom are OK, but any that float are less than fresh. Place a dozen of the freshest eggs in a pot of cold water and bring to rolling boil. Reduce heat slightly, cover and cook 2 min. Switch off heat and let stand covered until cooled to room temp.

SHARING BLESSED EGGS (dzielenie się jajkiem)
After grace has been said, but before the Easter meal begins, all present share wedges of blessed hard-cooked eggs. Either the host goes around with a plate of  quartered eggs which each guest impales on a fork or the plate is passed from guest to guest. All wait with their fork-impaled egg wedge in hand until everybody has been served, and then amid mutual wishes of “Wesołego Alleluja” and “Wesołych Świąt Wielkanocnych” everybody consumes their egg at the same time.

HOMEMADE WHITE BARSZCZ SOUR (domowy zakwas do białego barszczu):
In a crock or glass jar, combine 1 c rye flour or 1 c rolled oats or 1 part of each, add several rye-bread crusts or 1 slice rye bread and 1 – 3 buds slivered garlic and drench with 4 c pre-boiled lukewarm water. Cover mouth of container with cheese cloth fastened with rubber-band and let stand in warm (75°- 80°F) place 3 – 5 days, or until liquid becomes pleasantly.

TRADITIONAL WHITE  EASTER BARZSCZ (biały  barszcz wielkanocny):  Cook 1 lb of fresh (raw) kiełbasa, 1 quartered onion and 1 bay leaf and cook covered in 4-5 c water at a gentle rolling boiling 45 min. Leave in pot until cooled to room temp. Remove sausage and refrigerate until needed. Strain liquid and refrigerate overnight. Next day remove and discard congealed fat. Heat sausage stock to boiling, adding water if needed to have 4 c. Add 2 c homemade barszcz sour (above) or store-bought żur liquid, simmer several min and remove from heat.  Fork-blend 1 heaping T flour with 1 c sour cream until smooth and stir into it 1 c hot soup a T at a time, whisking until smooth. Slowly stir into soup pot and simmer briefly. Add 1-2 buds crushed garlic, 1 heaping T prepared horseradish, 1 T marjoram and salt & pepper to taste if required. In soup bowls place sliced hard-cooked eggs, the sliced cooked kiełbasa and (optional) some cubed farmer cheese, and ladle the hot soup over them.

EASY WHITE EASTER BARZSCZ (biały  barszcz wielkanocny łatwy):
To 4 c (de-greased) water in which kiełbasa was cooked add 2 c plain water, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer briefly. Remove from heat and, when slightly cooled, stir in 1 c sour cream fork-blended with a heaping T flour. Use whisk or hand-held mixer or immersion blender to obliterate any lumps that form. Simmer briefly and sour with 2-4 T white vinegar (more or less to taste) and season with 1-2 t marjoram.  Allow guests to help themselves to soup additions: sliced hard-cooked eggs, cold cooked fresh kiełbasa sliced into rounds or half-rounds,  cubed or diced farmer cheese, stale rye bread cubes and prepared horseradish.

EASTER SALAD (sałatka wielkanocna)
Combine: 3-4 c cold, cooked potatoes diced, 3-4 chopped hard-cooked eggs, 2 peeled, cored, diced tart apples, 2 diced brined cucumbers (ogórki kiszone), bunch of green onions chopped, several diced radish and a small or medium can of drained peas and carrots. Toss gently to combine, salt & pepper to taste and lace with sauce (for just over 1 c) made by mixing ½ c dairy sour cream, ½ c mayo, heaping t or T brown mustard and/or prepared horseradish (depending on sharpness desired). Decorate top with additional sauce and several sliced hard-cooked eggs and garnish with finely chopped parsley.

GREEN PEA SALAD (sałatka z zielonego groszku)
Drain well 4 c canned peas or use cooked frozen peas. Gently toss with 2-3 chopped green onions, 6 chopped radishes and 2-3 chopped dill pickles. Lace with just enough mayo to lightly coat ingredients.

CHIVE-STUFFED EGGS (jaj ze szczpiorkowym nadzieniem)
Shell 6, cold, hard-cooked eggs, cut in half lengthwise, gently scoop out yolks and set whites aside. Mash yolks, add 3 T room-temp butter, 3 T finely chopped chives, 1/4 t mild paprika and mix into a uniform filling. Salt & pepper to taste and use mixture to fill egg-white halves.

PREPARED HORSERADISH (chrzan tarty z octem)
This is the basic condiment of the Polish Easter table. Imported Polish and domestic bottled, prepared horseradish is widely available. Plain grated horseradish not containing milk or cream is preferable to the creamed variety which contains preservatives.

CREAMY HORSERADISH SAUCE (sos chrzanowy ze śmietaną)
Combine 1 c sour cream or whipping cream (unwhipped) with 2-3 heaping T  prepared horseradish. Season to taste with salt, sugar and lemon juice or vinegar.

EASTER SAUCE  (sos do święconego)
Fork-blend 1/2 c dairy sour cream with 1/2 c mayonnaise, add 1 – 2 chopped hard-cooked eggs and 1/2 – 3/4 c mixed finely chopped additions: dill pickle, chives or green onions, pickled mushroom and radishes. Stir in 1 heaping t to 1 T prepared horseradish and season to taste with salt, sugar and lemon juice or vinegar. An excellent zinger-upper for hard-cooked eggs and cold meats.

RED PICKLED EGGS (jaja marynowane na czerwono)
Combine 1 c white vinegar with juice of enough canned pickled beets to get 4 c liquid. Bring to boil, simmer briefly and set aside to cool. When cooled to room temp, pour over shelled hard-cooked eggs to cover. Use a lid or plate to keep the eggs submerged. Refrigerate overnight or longer.

EASY BEET & HORSERADISH RELISH (łatwa ćwikla z chrzanem)
Dice the pickled beets from the red pickled-egg recipe (above) and stir in about 1 heaping t or T prepared horseradish per c diced beets. Toss gently and refrigerate overnight in closed container before using. This is the classic Polish Easter condiment to accompany ham, sausage, roasts and hard-cooked eggs.

COLD-MEAT PLATTER (półmisek zimnych mięs)
On oval or rectangular serving platters arrange an assortment of  sliced cold meats: rounds of cooked white (fresh) and smoked kiełbasa, sliced ham, Canadian bacon (polędwica), kabanosy (thin dry sausage), sliced pork roast, Krakowska sausage, kaszanka (kiszka is also good cold!), boiled beef tongue, head cheese (salceson), etc. Decorate platter with red pickled eggs, radish roses, dill-pickle spears and sprigs of curly parsley.

HOMEMADE KIEŁBASA (kiełbasa domowa)
Combine 4 lbs coarsely ground pork butts and 1/2  lb unsalted pork fatback (słonina) with 1 lb finely ground veal or beef round steak. Sprinkle with 3 T salt, 1/2 t pepper, 1 T marjoram and 3-4 buds crushed garlic. Mix well by hand, adding 1 c cold water until fully absorbed. Spread mixture across the bottom of a large, shallow glass or crockery pan and refrigerate overnight. Next day, stuff hog casings (well rinsed of salt) with mixture, twisting into 12” – 15” links and tying them with white twine. Hang up to air-dry in cool, well-ventilated place several hrs or overnight. To cook, proceed as follows.

BOILED FRESH KIEŁBASA (biała kiełbasa gotowana)
Make pin or needle pricks at intervals in 3 lbs fresh kiełbasa. Place in pot of cold water which should cover  it by at least 1”.  Add 1 bay leaf and 1 large quartered onion and cook on low to a gentle boil. Simmer on low covered  45 min from the time boiling starts. Let stand in hot liquid another 10 min before serving. Pork must be fully cooked so make sure it is no longer pink inside.

BEER-BAKED FRESH KIEŁBASA (biała kiełbasa pieczona w piwie)
Arrange 3 lbs fresh kiełbasa in a single layer in baking pan. Drench with  a 12 oz bottle beer and enough water to barely cover the sausage. Bake in pre-heated 375° oven 30 min. Turn sausage over. Smother with 4 small thinly sliced onions, sprinkle with caraway seeds and bake another 30 min. 

BAKED POLISH HAM (polska szynka pieczona)
Remove a Krakus ham from its tin and transfer to baking pan together with the gelatin included in tin. Drench ham with 1 c Polish mead (miód pitny = honey wine), sprinkle with a little marjoram, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 1 hr at 375°. The ham is already fully cooked so all you need to do is heat it through.

KIEŁBASA & SAUERKRAUT (kiełbasa z kapustą)
Drain 2 – 3 qts sauerkraut and rinse in cold water. Drain, press out moisture, chop,  place in pot, scald with boiling water to cover, add  2-3 bay leaves and cook uncovered 45 – 60 min. Drain and transfer to baking pan. Mix in 1 finely diced onion, 1 peeled, cored, diced apple and 5-6 diced pitted prunes. Cut 3 lbs smoked kiełbasa into 2” or 3” pieces and mix with sauerkraut. Bake in 350° oven 90 min or so, mixing occasionally, Leave in oven after switching off heat until cooled to room temp. Refrigerate overnight. Best when reheated.

SAND BABKA (babka piaskowa)
Combine 3/4 c flour, 3/4 c potato starch and 4 t baking powder and sift together. Cream 1 c + 2 T butter with 1-1/2 c confectioner’s sugar, gradually adding 4 raw egg yolks, zest rind and juice of 1 lemon and mix will. Gently fold in 4 stiffly beaten egg whites. Transfer to greased, flour-dusted babka pan and bake in 350° oven 1 hr or so. When cool dust with confectioner’s sugar or ice.

BABCIA’S CHEESECAKE (sernik babuni)
Combine 1-1/4 cups flour, 3/4 t baking powder and 1/4 t salt. With fork mash in 1/4 c butter or margarine. Beat 1 egg with 3 T sour cream and stir into flour mixture with 1/3 c confectioner’s sugar. Knead well until dough is smooth and roll out on floured bread-board into a rectangle. Line a 13x9x2 inch pan with the dough and bring it part way up the sides. Separately, beat 6 eggs with 2 c confectioner’s sugar at high speed 5 min, add 1 t vanilla extract and beat until fluffy. Process in food processor or sieve 1 lb farmer’s cheese, combine with 1-1/2 c mashed potatoes, add 2 t baking powder, 1/2 t salt, 1 T lemon or orange zest and a pinch of nutmeg. Combine well with egg mixture, transfer to dough-lined basking pan, smoothing out the top. Bake at 350° 45-55 min or until set. Cool well before cutting into portions.

CRUMB-TOP PLUM MAZURKA (mazurek z powidłami i kruszonką)
Cut 1/2 lb butter into 3 c flour, gradually mixing in 4 egg yolks and 1 scant c confectioner’s sugar. Quickly work ingredients into a smooth dough, wrap in foil and refrigerate several hrs. Divide dough into 2 parts. Roll out one half  and fit it into square or rectangular baking pan. Spread with powidła (Polish plum butter). Coarsely grate the remaining dough, evenly covering the entire surface. Bake in preheated  390°-400° oven about 20 min or until nice and golden. When cool, cut into squares.

WAFER MAZURKA (mazurek na waflu)
Get 4 plain, large, square or rectangular wafers at a pastry-supply, gourmet, specialty or European  import shop. Place 1 wafer on cutting board, spread thinly with apricot or cherry jam, cover with another wafer, press down gently and spread with canned chocolate of white frosting, cover with another wafer, spread it with jam and cover with a 4th wafer. Cover with clean dish towel, weight down with something heavy (like a large book) and refrigerate. Just before serving spread top and sides with frosting and sprinkle top generously with ground walnuts. Cut into squares and serve.

FOR  SKILLED PASTRY COOKS ONLY! EASTER CHEESE DESSERT (pascha)
Sieve 2-1/4 lbs full-cream (not fat-reduced!)) farmer cheese. Separately cream 5 egg yolks with 1-1/4 c sugar, stir in 1 c coffee cream. Stirring constantly, heat mixture nearly to boiling point, but do not boil. Remove from flame, stir in the cheese, 1 1/4 lb unsalted butter, 3/4 c plumped raisins, 1/2 c chopped blanched almonds, 1 t orange zest and 1  t vanilla. Mix well and place mixture on  cheese cloth.  Tie cheese cloth into a ball and hang it up to drip-dry, twisting ball to extract moisture. When no more moisture can be extracted, refrigerate in cheese cloth over night. Remove cheese cloth and decorate cheese ball pascha with chopped candied orange rind, slivered almonds and raisins.

By
The Polish Chef
Robert Strybel