Everyone should have a Polish friend. In Adelaide recently, I stayed with my Polish friend and during the first two days of being back in Melbourne I have already made two Polish inspired dishes.
Not only that, I came home with a bunch of sorrel from her garden and I made an omlette (sorrel = bottom right hand side of photo). When i am fortunate enough to have some sorrel I usually braise it with potatoes, or make a green borscht, or add it to it to a braise of meat.
My friend celebrates Christmas eve with some of the traditional Polish foods that her parents used to enjoy. She and her two sisters get together and make Pierogi stuffed with sauerkraut and dried porcini mushrooms.
She knows how much I like sauerkraut and if I am visiting her after Christmas I know that she would have saved some Pierogi for me in her freezer.
This time (October) she prepared the sauerkraut and dried porcini mushrooms as a side dish for duck breasts, a green salad , steamed herbed potatoes and beetroot….potatoes and beetroot are almost a must in all Polish meals. The dried mushrooms make the sauerkraut a darker colour.
Having lived in Trieste, I am very used to eating and preparing sauerkraut and it is one of my favourite ingredients, but I generally I do not add dried mushrooms nor do I cook sauerkraut as long as she does.
Like all who have cooked a particular recipe for a long time, she does not measure quantities.
Vary the amounts of mushrooms, sauerkraut and cooking times as you wish.
1/4- 1/2 cups dried Porcini mushrooms soaked in water to cover
splash of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1k-900g sauerkraut, jars are usually 900g – drained, rinsed and squeezed
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Leave mushrooms too soak at least for a couple of hours or combine water and dried mushrooms in a saucepan over low heat, simmer,and cook until tender – about 10 minutes. Drain mushrooms, reserving cooking water. Slice the mushrooms into smaller pieces if necessary.
Heat olive oil in a saucepan and over medium heat sauté onion until soft. Add mushrooms and drained sauerkraut and mix well. Add salt and pepper.
Add mushroom water, cover, and simmer until sauerkraut is soft. Add more water as it cooks if necessary. My friend cooks it for over an hour.
The second Polish thing I did in the last two days was to add a beetroot to the chicken broth I cooked. I have done this before and what it does is to colour the broth…not red, but a rich, golden colour as is evident in the photo above.
I make chicken broth the Italian way, adding a whole onion, celery sticks, carrots, whole peppercorns and salt.
My mother also added a little tomato, and perhaps this was done to colour, but I only do this when tomatoes are in season. My Polish friend had recommend adding a beetroot years ago.
I use a whole, free range chicken and eat the meat.
Follow the above recipe, just add a whole beetroot (unpeeled).
You could also add dried porcini to this recipe: