This month we turned to our Polish Head Chef, Paula in Burger Shop Worcester to educate us on her countries exciting, rich and hearty cuisine. Often underrated, polish food is perhaps not the most popular of choices, but certainly worth trying.
Polish cuisine is the result of a treasured lure of ancestral ingredients, meaning still to this day the average Pole carries shaman-like knowledge of ingredients and recipes passed down from previous generations. Root vegetables, wild mushrooms and breads are the obvious traditional staple fare of this Slavic influenced country. But, sharing roots with France and Italy at the turn of the second millennium; European influences began to appear. When Italian Princess Bona Sforza became the Queen of Poland in 1518, she brought along her Italian staff, who soon introduced ingredients previously unknown to Poland (tomatoes, lettuce, leeks, cauliflower and chives). Today, the Polish word (wloszczyna) for standard soup greens; parsley, celeriac, cabbage and leek translates to ‘Italian Stuff’.
Below we have the simple process of probably Poland’s most famous dish, Pierogi. These dumplings can be served in a variety of flavours and are a classic example of how versatile Polish cooking can be. For example, changing the filling with the seasons or from savoury to sweet. Most common are cabbage and wild mushroom, or meat and potato with a cream cheese, but can also be served with forest fruits, strawberries or cherries topped off with cream and sugar. It's no exaggeration to say that when it comes to Pierogi's, the limits are where your imagination finishes.
SPINACH + FETA PIEROGI DUMPLING
WHAT YOU'LL NEED...
• 500g Plain Flour (extra for rolling)
• 1 x Egg
• 200ml Milk
• 7g Dried Yeast
• 40g Butter
• 1 x TBSP Sugar
• 1 x Pinch Of Salt
In a bowl firstly, mix flour, yeast, salt and sugar together. Rub in the butter until incorporated. Add 1 egg and milk. Continue mixing until the ingredients create a firm dough, adding more flour if the dough is sticking to your hands- the dough needs to have an elastic feel. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes allowing the dough to rise a little. Once risen, section the dough into 4 equal parts and begin rolling the dough until 2mm thick. Using a pastry cutter, cut circles and set aside ready to be filled.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED...
• 500g Fresh Spinach (washed + shredded)
• 200g Feta Cheese
• 3 x Shallots Finely Diced
• 4 x Garlic Cloves Minced
• 50g Butter
• Pinch of Nutmeg (to taste)
• Salt + Pepper
• 1 x Egg (for glazing)
On a medium heat, melt the butter and add the shallots, garlic, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and let sweat until soft and translucent. Spinach should then be added, letting to wilt down and cook until the excess moisture has evaporated. Crumble in the feta, season and leave to cool. Put a spoonful of the spinach mix in the middle of the cut pastry. Fold over the ends to make half circles and join together with your fingers. Whisk the egg and glaze each dumpling with the egg wash. Bake on greaseproof paper for 15-20mins @ 180 until golden.