Polish Hunter’s Cookery
By The Polish Chef
ROAST VENISON (pieczeń z sarny): Combine 2 c diced vegetables (carrots, onions, celery and parsley root with 2 c, oil, 1 c wine vinegar or cider vinegar and 2 c dry white wine, Add 1 t peppercorns, 1 t dried juniper berries, 2 bay leaves, several grains allspice and 4-5 cloves. Lard a 5 lb leg of venison with ¼ lb pork fatback.* Cover meat with marinade and keep in cool place covered with dish towel 2-3 days. Turn the meat over every 8 hrs or so. Remove from marinade and pat dry. Brown in hot oil on all sides to seal in juices and transfer to roasting pan. Drench with 2 c strained marinade, smother with 2-3 coarsely chopped fresh onions and bake covered in preheated 325° 2½ – 3 hrs or until tender. Baste and turn over roast occasionally during baking. Replace liquid that evaporates with water or meat stock. When tender, the drippings can be thickened with a little flour to form a gravy. Serve with potatoes or buckwheat groats and braised beets (see below).
BRAISED BEETS (buraczki): Dice or grate coarsely 1½ lbs cooked (boiled or baked and peeled) beets. When short of time, drained canned beets will also do. Lightly brown 1 heaping T diced pork fatback, add 2-3 T flour and brown slightly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in several T water and cook, stirring until bubbly. Pour over beets, add 2 peeled, coarsely grated cooking apples, mix well and simmer several min until apples are fully cooked. Season to taste with salt, pepper, sugar and lemon juice.
VENISON-PORK KIEŁBASA (kiełbasa z sarniny i wieprzowiny): Cut 5 lbs boneless venison (with all sinews removed) into cubes and grind coarsely with 4 lbs fatty, boneless pork (shoulder roast is good!).and 1 lb unsalted pork fatback. Mix meat mixture, add 2-3 cloves crushed garlic, sprinkle with 5 T salt, 1 T rubbed marjoram, 1 T ground juniper (jałowiec) and 2 T sugar. Mix well by hand to blend evenly. Spread mixture along the bottom of several pans, cover with clean dish towel and keep in cool (below 50°F) place (cellar, breezeway, screen porch, garage) or fridge overnight. Next day, mix well and run through grinder with sausage-stuffing tube attached into rinsed hog casings. Twist into links at 12” – 16” intervals and hang up to air-dry in cool place at least 12 hrs. Bake or boil as you would ordinary kiełbasa, only a little longer. .
ROAST PHEASANT (bażant pieczony): Rub dressed pheasant inside and about with salt, pepper, sage, ground juniper and a pinch of ground cloves. Place in bowl or crockery container and drench with marinade containing ⅓ c each: cider or white-wine vinegar, white wine and water. Cover and refrigerate several hrs or overnight. Wipe pheasant and lard with 1/8 lb frozen lardoons.* Place a quartered onion, cut-up carrot and parsley root in cavity and bake in 375° oven 75 – 90 min or until fork-tender, basting with butter and pan drippings. Serve with rinse or mashed potatoes and Old Polish cranberry-apple-horseradish sauce (see below).
CRANBERRY/APPLE/HORSRADISH SAUCE (sos żurawinowo-jabłkowy z chrzanem): Combine 1 jar Łowicz brand żurawina (imported from Poland and available at Polish delis), 1 c apple sauce, 1 heaping T prepared, non-cream-style horseradish and the juice of ½ a lemon. If the Polish żurawina (cranberry sauce) is unavailable in your area, briefly process 12 oz can of domestic whole-style cranberry sauce with the apple sauce, horseradish and lemon juice and add a heaping T cherry jelly.
ROAST CHICKEN HUNTER STYLE (kurczę pieczone po myśliwsku): Even if you haven’t got access to wild game, you can make an ordinary chicken taste a little like pheasant, grouse or partridge. Rub a washed, rinsed, dried whole 3½ lb broiler-fryer inside and out with salt, pepper, ground juniper, paprika and 1-2 buds crushed garlic and let stand covered at room temp. 1 hr. Place in roasting pan, cover breast and drumsticks with thin slices of pork fatback, surround bird with onions and carrots, add 1 c water and bake at 375° 75-90 min. Midway through, sprinkle with ¼ c dry white wine and baste with pan drippings. Sprinkle with 1 t marjoram. Serve with egg-batter dumplings (see below), sprinkled with the pan drippings.
EGG-BATTER DUMPLINGS (kluski kładzione): Put a large (3-4 qt) pot of lightly salted water on to boil. Beat 3 eggs into a bowl. Add 3 c flour, sifted, and 1 t salt and mix well, adding just enough water to get a thick batter. When water is rapidly boiling, drop teaspoonfuls of batter into it. When all batter is used up, stir the dumplings, cover and cook 1 min. or so. When they all float up drain in colander and allow to drip-dry.
HUNTER’S BIGOS (bigos myśliwski): Soak 1 oz dried bolete mushrooms in 1½ c water several hrs, then cook in same water until tender, chop, return to liquid and set aside. Drain 3 qts sauerkraut, reserving liquid. Rinse in cold water, drain again, squeeze dry in colander and chop coarsely. Place in pot with 1 bay leaf, cover with cold water and cook uncovered about 60 min, stirring occasionally. Add some or all of the following: 2 qts various cooked cubed meat (preferably including some venison) and 1 lb or so smoked kiełbasa (diced or sliced into thin rounds), the mushrooms & liquid, 1 mushroom bouillon cube, 1 c stewed tomatoes, chopped, ½ c pitted prunes, chopped, ½ c dry red wine, 2 buds crushed garlic and 2 peeled, diced tart apples. Mix ingredients and simmer on stovetop 2 hrs on low heat, stirring occasionally. If too soupy, pour off some liquid and thicken bigos with a little flour. Season with salt & pepper, ½ t ground juniper and ½ t caraway. Switch off heat and let stand covered until cooled to room temp. Refrigerate over night. Next day, bake in 325° oven covered another 2 hrs or more. If not tart enough, add some reserved sauerkraut liquid. Serve with boiled potatoes or rye bread.
* Lardoons: Cut white pork fatback into sticks and freeze. With thin knife and make incisions in the meat the length of your fatback sticks and insert them. They go in easier when frozen stiff.