There is something undeniably special about the fall season when the leaves begin to turn and the air becomes crisp. As the colors change and the weather gets cooler, comes the craving for new flavors and recipes that reflect this time of year. If you feel like adding some warmth and comfort to your meals when the temperature drops, consider trying some authentic Polish recipes.
These dishes will not only bring a taste of Poland to your table, but will surely warm you up and provide the perfect balance of heartiness and satisfaction. From spicy stews and soups to sweet treats, these recipes are sure to become favorites during the autumn months.
Traditional Polish Autumn Dishes
When it comes to traditional Polish dishes, there are a few that are extremely popular during the autumn months. One of these dishes is „pierogi z kapustą i grzybami”, meaning: dumplings filled with cabbage and mushrooms. Pierogi are a foundation of Polish cuisine and provide a hearty and filling meal. Another popular autumn dish is bigos. It is a hearty stew made from sauerkraut and various meats. Rosół (which is a chicken soup) is also a popular dish at this time of year, as it is both nutritious as well as worming up. For barley lovers, a must-try dish is krupnik, which is a traditional barley soup. These dishes are just a few examples of the many delicious and authentic Polish recipes that are perfect for the autumn season.
„Pierogi” with mushrooms and cabbage
Whenever you are in the mood for a hearty meal, consider having pierogi with cabbage and mushrooms. This traditional Polish recipe is perfect for the cooler autumn months and will certainly become your home’s new favorite dish. Here’s how to prepare it.
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You’ll need to start by soaking the mushrooms for a few hours until they soften. This will help give them a more flavorful and tender texture. While the mushrooms are being soaked, grate the carrots and put them aside.
Then it’s time to prepare the filling. In a heavy-bottomed pot, cook the shredded cabbage and grated carrots until they are tender. Add a little bit of salt and pepper for taste. In a frying pan, fry the onions until they become soft and translucent. Now add the sauerkraut mixture to the frying pan and fry together for about 5 minutes.
Now it is time to prepare the dough. Pour flour onto a pastry board, add salt and softly crushed butter. Carefully mix the ingredients together, then add hot water and knead quickly until the dough is well blended. The dough should be well kneaded, to the point where air bubbles appear when you cut it in half.
Cut circles out of the dough, then put a spoonful of cabbage and mushroom stuffing on each one. Stuff the dumplings by folding the dough over and pressing the edges together to make them seal.
Once all the dumplings are folded, you can either cook them in a pot with salt water until they float to the surface or you can fry them in a pan with a little butter until golden brown on both sides. Serve the dumplings hot, sprinkled with fresh herbs or with sour cream.
Bigos (sauerkraut and meat stew)
Start by washing the cabbage well with the water, if it is very sour. Drain it from excess sour juice and chop it into smaller pieces. Place the cabbage in a large pot with a thick bottom, along with the bones, ribs and bay leaves. Fill all with water and cook it at medium flame for about an hour.
As the cabbage is boiling, warm some oil in a frying pan and then add an onion, diced. Fry the onions until they are soft and translucent, then add the bacon, sausage (also diced) and mushrooms (sliced). Stir-fry together for a few minutes, until the bacon and sausages look browned.
Once the cabbage is boiling for an hour, remove the bones and ribs from the pot and let it cool for a while. Chop the meat into large cubes, and then put it back in the pot altogether with the sautéed onions, bacon, sausages and mushrooms. Now add the spices for bigos and cook everything together for another hour or so. Finally, add marjoram, pepper and tomato paste to taste.
Serve the bigos hot, sprinkled with fresh herbs or with sour cream. This hearty and flavorful stew will surely become your new favorite dish during the autumn months.
Krupnik – Polish Barley Soup
Krupnik, which is Polish barley soup, it is a delicious dish that is perfect for the cooler autumn months. It’s not only tasty, but also light and easy for digestion, making it a great option for those suffering from stomach problems. The best krupnik is usually made with meat stock – typically ribs or wings are suggested. However, turkey or duck can be used as well. Here’s how to prepare it:
Start by putting the meat in a pot and filling it with 2 liters of cold water. Make it boil on low flame, and when the meat reaches boiling point, remove all the fractions that have formed on the water surface.
Add carrots, parsley, celery, leek, bay leaf and allspice to the pot and boil everything for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables from the broth.
Slice the vegetables into small cubes, as well as peel and dice the potatoes. Now add all the vegetables to the broth together with the barley groats. Be careful not to add too much barley, as it can make the soup stock too thick – the groats will triple in volume as they cook. Usually 5 or 6 spoons is enough.
Season the soup with salt and pepper and continue boiling for another 30 minutes. Continue until the potatoes are soft and the groats have gained some more volume. If krupnik gets too thick, feel free to add a little water.
Finally, add some chopped parsley to the pot and season everything with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve the krupnik hot, garnished with a sprinkling of fresh herbs or a spoonful of sour cream.
Sweet Treats for the Season
Fall is a wonderful time in Poland during which we enjoy sweet treats. There are so many delicious options to choose from. Starting with classic desserts such as piernik (gingerbread) and makowiec (poppy seed cake) to cups of hot cocoa.
One of the most iconic sweet treats of the fall season in Poland is piernik. This classic gingerbread is made with a lot of spices, including ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Also it is usually formed into Christmas shapes. Another popular autumn treat is poppy seed cake, or delicious poppy seed rolls, which are filled with a sweet and creamy poppy seed filling. What you can’t miss for is a mug of hot cocoa with whipped cream. Whether you’re craving something sweet at the end of a meal or just looking for a snack, you’ll find couple of options here.
Piernik, which means gingerbread cake, it is a classic Polish dessert which is perfect for the autumn season. It is filled with warm spices and decorated with raisins and nuts. This delicious treat will surely be your new favorite. In order to make it, you will need the following ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, gingerbread spice mix, baking soda, salt, honey, margarine or butter, milk, eggs, raisins, nuts, jam or confiture, chocolate and extra margarine.
For the dough, start with preheating the oven to 170°C (338°F) and covering a small baking pan with parchment paper. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, gingerbread spice mix, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Now add honey, margarine or butter, milk and beaten eggs, and stir until well mixed. Add the raisins and nuts.
Pour the dough into the baking pan and bake it for about 45-50 minutes. It is ready when a skewer inserted inside comes out clean. Let the cake cool a bit in the open oven, then take it out, put it on a wire rack and let it cool down completely. When the cake is cold, cut it in half or into thirds and spread it with jam or fruit preserve. Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over boiling water. Add milk and margarine and stir until all ingredients are blended. Spread the chocolate mixture on the cake and sprinkle with finely chopped nuts.
Sernik na Zimno – Cold Cheesecake
Prepare the jelly according to the instructions on the package but use 50 ml of water less. Once prepared, pour the jelly into a clean bowl so it cools down faster. Wash and dry the strawberries, tear off the stalks. Put baking paper on the bottom of a 26 cm diameter cake pan, fasten the rim allowing the paper to come outside. Put the sponge cakes on the bottom.
Boil the milk, take it off the heat and add the gelatin. Stir everything in order to dissolve it. Put cheesecake curd into a larger bowl, add cream cheese, powdered sugar or xylitol, vanilla sugar and stir with a spoon.
While gelatin is still warm, add one or two tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture (mix it). Once done, add another 2 – 3 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture and mix again. Repeat the process with a few more tablespoons and then transfer all of it to the remaining cheese in the bowl and mix with a beaters until it is smooth.
Add 2/3 of the amount of half-cut strawberries, mix gently with a spoon and pour everything on the bottom of the sponge cake, smooth the surface and put in the refrigerator for about half an hour. During this time, the jelly will cool and the cheesecake will harden slightly. Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator and press the rest of the strawberries into it. Using a spoon, pour out the jelly and place in the fridge until completely thickened.
How to Include Traditional Ingredients into Our Own Recipes
Traditional ingredients can add great depth and flavor to the recipes,. Autumn is perfect time to include some of them in your kitchen. Root vegetables, such as parsnips, carrots and beets, are a basic ingredient in many traditional Polish dishes. They can be used in a variety of ways. Try adding them to soups or stews, roasting them with spices or even pureeing them for a creamy soup. Grains such as barley and rye are also commonly used in Polish cuisine. They add a hearty and satisfying element to soups and breads. Try including them in soups or using rye flour in your bread recipes for a unique twist.
Seasonal fruits, such as apples and pears, are also great additions to both sweet and savory dishes. Try adding sliced apples to a salad or adding them to a pork roast. Pears can be used in desserts such as pies and chips, or even grilled and served as a side dish to savory main dishes. Experimenting with traditional ingredients is a wonderful way to add some cultural flair to your kitchen and bring the flavor of the next level. If you are curious about other polish traditions, please read my other article about this topic here.