Polish Bigos – Hunter’s Stew

Milwaukee may have one of the largest Polish communities in the midwest. The church where my wife and I got married in, the Basilica of St. Josaphat actually had a Polish restaurant directly across the street. I went to school with kids whose last name ended with ‘ski’. Milwaukee has an annual Polish fest as well, and we attended this year and devoured all of the food that had to offer, and may I add very delicious food. Typically the only Polish cuisine that I was familiar with was Polish sausage, but there are so many great dishes out there such as Polish meatloaf, pierogies, and all things cabbage. The cabbage, or should I say sauerkraut is what let me to this recipe known as bigos, or hunter’s stew. It immediately grabs your attention due to the simple ingredients, but the flavor is just out of this world.

Bigos is not the prettiest of dishes, but it does provide comfort in every way, shape, and form. Bigos is typically served with potatoes, and uses sauerkraut and a variety of pork.

Polish Bigos Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 14 oz can of Sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 mushroom bouillon
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 lb polish sausage, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 pound pork should, cubed
  • 12 oz beer
  • roasted baby yukon potatoes, or 1 baking potato
  • 1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Start by heating two skillets on medium heat. To each skillet add one tablespoon of canola oil. Let this come up to temperature.

To one skillet add the pork shoulder and sliced polish sausage. Brown on all sides, then remove to a plate to be used to make the bigos.

To the other skillet add the onions, mushroom, and garlic. Stir and let these cook down for about 8 minutes.

During this time, heat the water to a boil and add in the mushroom bouillon cube. Break that down until the cube is dissolved. Turn off the heat.

When the onion mixture is cooked down, add in the tomato paste, and stir that into the mixture, cooking the paste for about 5 minutes.

The tomato paste might stick to the pan due to the heat, but that’s OK because we are going to use the beer to deglaze the mixture.

After the tomato paste is cooked through, add the beer, and use your wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the skillet. Add in the washed and drained kraut and give that a good stir. Toss in the salt and pepper.

To a medium or large pot, add the mixture, and add in the semi cooked pork. Add in the mushroom stock, and stir.

Bring this to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking for about 3 hours on low heat.

To serve, you can scoop the bigos onto a plate and serve with roasted potatoes, or get a bit creative and do what I did and add it to a baked potato!
How to make Polish Hunter's Stew

The end result is a dish that has this slight bit of sourness to it that you cannot get your hands on but want to keep coming back for more. The sausage and pork just falls apart and is a perfect pairing with the kraut. It almost reminds me of Filipino adobo If you are looking for a great, comforting Polish recipe, give this one a try. It’s perfect for this time of year!

Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Vietnamese shaking beef, known as Bo Luc Lac is a beef salad that you must make. I say this because it is loaded with awesome flavor, texture, and is just a great dish to share with your friends and family. Typically this beef salad uses beef tenderloin, however many Vietnamese folks might not have access to that cut of beef, and hence why I tend to use a cut such as sirloin, marinated for hours to help tenderize it, and then quickly cooked in a very hot skillet or wok.

The beef is marinated in some of my favorite Asian sauces including oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce, along with garlic and lots of cracked black pepper. Trust me on this one, it is really, really good, and I haven’t even mentioned the dressing that goes along with it!

Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Let’s get started:

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 4 tbsp Mirin or sweet rice wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

Ingredients for the beef and salad:

  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 lbs top sirloin steak, fat trimmed, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups watercress
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts

Start by marinating your meat. You can do this for four hours, or overnight, which I prefer to do. Add the cubed beef to a large ziplock bag. In a small mixing bowl, add the garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and cracked black pepper and mix until everything is incorporated. Add this to the ziplock bag, seal, and toss the beef in the marinade, gently massaging along the way. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Next, make the dressing. To a small mixing bowl, add the dressing ingredients, and mix to dissolve the sugar. Seal and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the salad.

Vietnamese Shaking Beef Ingredients

When the beef is done marinating, remove and let it come up to room temperature, or long enough to take the chill off of it.

Heat a large wok or skillet on medium-high heat. Let this heat up for a few minutes, then add in the canola oil. Let the oil heat up for about a minute, then add the beef. I should say add the beef, enough to not over crowd the skillet. You can do this in batches if you prefer.How to make Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Keep shaking the skillet, back and forth, moving the beef. Let it get a nice sear on the outside, and cook to your desired doneness. I tend to go medium on my beef. Once cooked, remove the beef onto a plate. Repeat if necessary.

To another bowl, add the watercress. Add about 5 tablespoons of the dressing onto the watercress, and give a gentle toss.

To your serving dish, add the watercress. Place the beef on top of the watercress, and add the tomatoes, peanuts, and I like to add some of the remaining shallots from the dressing on top of the beef.

The result is truly a great salad. The presentation is so inviting, and the flavors are perfectly balanced. Sweet, a bit bitter from the watercress, and then the awesome Asian flavors from the beef marinade. My wife and I devoured this salad and both agreed that it would be a hit at any dinner table. Hope you enjoy!

Egg Foo Yung

Pretty much everyone in my family, with the exception of my oldest son, loves eggs. Whether they be hard boiled, fried, or scrambled, everyone is sure to indulge. To me, eggs might be the best vehicle for serving up any type of hearty meal, and this past weekend, I decided to turn on my family to a dish known as Egg Foo Yung.  If you have never had egg foo yung, it is a must try. Think of it as a Chinese omelette, stuffed with all sorts of goodness, and served with an awesome beef gravy. My family totally fell in love with this, and were craving it the following day.

Egg Foo Yung

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the Egg Foo Yung:

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 cup shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 shrimp, peeled, deveined, sliced in half
  • 1 sprig of green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp sherry cooking wine
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 tbsp mushroom soy sauce (or regular soy sauce)
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

Ingredients for the Gravy:

  • 1 1/2 cup of beef stock
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Start by adding the ground pork and shitake mushrooms to a large, non-stick skillet, and cook over medium-high heat until the pork is cooked through. Once cooked, add the pork mixture to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

Make the gravy. Add the gravy ingredients to a sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Once it is thickened, turn off the heat and set it to the side.

How to make Egg Foo Yung

To a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, and then add in one cup of the ground pork and mushroom mixture. Toss in the sesame oil, soy sauce, bean sprouts, sherry, and shrimp. Give this a good stir.

To the skillet, add the canola oil and butter, and let that heat through until the butter is nice and melted, over medium-high heat.

Add the entire egg mixture, and spread the mixture out so everything is nice and even. Cook for a few minutes, and once the egg is set, give it a flip and cook another couple of minutes.

Egg Foo Yung

Slide the omelette onto your serving dish and ladle on the beef gravy. Garnish with the sliced green onions and any additional bean sprouts.

Trust me when I tell you this. This Chinese omelette is nothing short of amazing. Texturally it is awesome. You get the bits of pork and shrimp, and then the bean sprouts come through along with the great flavors of mushrooom, soy sauce and sesame oil. Don’t even get me started on the gravy. This could be one of my favorite things about the egg foo yung. The gravy… The gravy was out of this world. Beefy, garlic, and Asian inspired, this has got to be one of my favorite dishes, and I was surprised that my most suspicious of eaters devoured the egg foo yung! Hope you enjoy!

Harissa Marinated Grilled Chicken

Are you like me and have an abundance of spices in your cabinet? I try not to collect many as they often lose some of their potential over time, however I always have things like garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, paprika, dried chilies, and Italian seasoning handy, to name a few. I’ve also been playing with harissa powder lately. If you have never had harissa before, well, it could be a game changer for you. It has a great spice to it, along with some earthiness and it just goes great with something like grilled chicken. I use the harissa powder (you can probably find the paste in your ethnic grocery aisle or specialty store) and mix in a bit of canola oil to form a paste. Recently I decided to use some yogurt, which I love marinated chicken in, and incorporate the harissa paste into. It was awesome, and my kids devoured these kebobs.

Harissa Marinated Grilled Chicken

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz lemon noosa yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp harissa powder
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
  • wooden skewers, soaked in water
  • rosemary sprigs, options

Start by adding the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, salt, and harissa powder to a mixing bowl. Using a whisk, mix everything together until everything is incorporated and nice and smooth.

Add in the cubed chicken (you can use chicken thighs if you want the dark meat), and stir to coat the chicken.

Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Harissa Marinated Grilled Chicken

The following day, heat your grill to a medium heat. I use charcoal, but you do what you feel most comfortable doing.

While the grill heats, take a skewer and slide chicken cubes onto them. Once all of the chicken has been skewered, add them to the grill, turning along the way. These will take about 10-15 minutes to cook through. I lay a few sprigs of rosemary over the top as well for some additional flavor, because, why not. The marinade builds a nice crust on the chicken kebabs which is great.

When you are ready to serve, remove from the grill and place on a serving tray, along with roasted vegetables, and a side dish such as rice.

Everyone loved these, and the harissa really made these pop in flavor. Let’s just say there was very little left, but with any remains, well that just let me turn it into a turmeric fried rice. Hope you enjoy the harissa as much as I did!