We’ve been thinking about setting a book in our native Poland for quite some time now, and the submission call for “World of Love” helped us come up with an angle 🙂 The two main characters are former high school sweethearts who meet after several years, and after the bitterness that resulted of their breakup, the reconnection is everything but smooth. Through those characters we explored two conflicting feelings many immigrants face – the longing for home and everything it stands for, and the unstoppable curiosity that pushes them to explore. Who knows, maybe one doesn’t have to choose 😉
Because “I Love You More than Pierogi” revolves around food so much, we decided to share a recipe for one popular dish, tested and tasted by us 😀 Here is bigos, also known as the Polish hunter’s stew, one of the most iconic Polish dishes of all time. The history of this stew is long, and according to medievalists, it originates from a food referred by chronicles as compositum, but it had been likely prepared even earlier than that. In Compendium ferculorum, the first Polish cookbook, its author, Stanislaw Czerniecki writes of many variants of the dish.
At the time, in the seventeenth century, the stew was made almost entirely of meat, fresh produce, and exotic spices, which made it only affordable for the gentry. It was a century later that a less expensive version of the dish (called rascal’s bigos), based on sauerkraut and with the meat serving as an additive, made bigos more popular.
There are thousands of versions of the dish, and they can be found in English, but the variant in this post is meant to emulate what the bigos of the nobility could have tasted like. Enjoy!
- For 6 portions:
- 30 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 150 g prunes, cut in half
- 200 ml dry red wine
- 50 ml brandy or whisky
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
- 300 g beef (flank or chuck), cut into small chunks
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 500 g sauerkraut
- 400 g cabbage, chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 tablespoon plum jam
- 1 small cooking apple, grated
- 100 g polish juniper sausage (can be substituted with chorizo), sliced
- 1 pinch of hot paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 allspice berries
- 3 juniper berries
- 1/2 teaspoons of caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
You will need a large pot with a thick bottom and a large frying pan. Put the mushrooms into a smaller pot and wash them with water. Then, add 1/2 cup of cold water and put aside.
Put the prunes into a small bowl. Add wine and brandy, and put aside.
Heat a spoonful of the cooking oil in the pan, then add the beef and saute until the chunks brown. Do not wash the pan!
Pour a cup of water and the soy sauce in the big pot and bring to a boil, then add the browned meat. Cover and cook on low heat for 45 minutes. If it’s needed, add more water.
Put the sauerkraut into a colander and wash it two times in cold water. Drain and try to absorb even more moisture with a paper towel.
Heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan. Add the onion, bay leaf, allspice, juniper berries, and the caraway seeds. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent and slightly browned. Add the tomato and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the sauerkraut and fry on medium high heat for about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil.
Add the cabbage to the pot with the meat. Stir and cook covered for 5 minutes, until the cabbage softens. Add the contents of the pan, the porcini mushrooms with water, and the prunes with the alcohol. Add salt and bring to a boil on medium high heat.
Constantly stirring, add sugar, jam, and the apple. Cover and leave simmering on medium heat for 1 hour. Throughout that time, periodically check whether the contents are not sticking to the bottom.
Before the hour of cooking is up, saute the sausage and add it, along with the fat that melted out of it, into the pot. Stir, cover, and leave to cook for another hour.
Add the pepper, salt to taste, and the remaining olive oil.
Bigos tastes better with each time it is reheated:)
OS: Yum! Thanks for stopping by and good luck on your tour!
Marek and Adrian dated in high school, but a bitter breakup led them to choose different paths. Adrian is out and proud while Marek is in the closet. Adrian embraces his eccentricity while Marek clings to a conservative image. And while Marek worked hard to build a successful life and financial stability by climbing the corporate ladder, Adrian threw caution to the wind and has spent the last five years backpacking across the world.
Now Adrian is back in Warsaw, Poland, but while Marek thinks they will have a hookup and have a blast from the past, Adrian is just looking for a place to crash. Worse still, Adrian turns up at Marek’s advertising agency for help with his outrageous new business venture, and if Marek wants to get promoted, he might have to work with the guy who broke his heart.
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
Dreamspinner Website: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/i-love-you-more-than-pierogi-by-ka-merikan-7962-b
About the author
A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are mistaken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.
They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.
More information about ongoing projects, works in progress and publishing at:
K.A. Merikan’s author page: http://kamerikan.com
Agnes Merikan’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/AgnesMerikan
Follow the blog tour:
December 29 – MM Good Book Reviews
January 4 – Boy Meets Boy
January 5 – Open Skye Book Reviews
January 5 – The Novel Approach
January 6 – Love Bytes
January 9 – Alpha Book Reviews
January 10 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words