Skip to content

Foods to celebrate a Polish Christmas

A Polish Christmas Eve 'Wigilia' features 12 meatless dishes. Here are a few to try for your holiday table, from Polish author Anna Hurning and her site, polishyourkitchen.com. The dishes are traditional and delicious. Smacznego!

I'm Polish through and through, so the traditional 'Wigilia'--A Christmas Eve of 12 meatless dishes--is what my childhood was all about. Polish YouTuber and cookbook author Anna Hurning (who shares her recipes here) features a treasure of authentic Polish recipes at her website, polishyourkitchen.com., as well as giving readers and viewers a taste of what life is like in her home country. See Anna's website and YouTube channel for delicious, traditional Polish recipes, to enjoy travels around the country with she and her husband Mark, and to order her cookbooks and merchandise.

SAUERKRAUT AND MUSHROOM PIEROGI {PIEROGI Z KAPUSTĄ I Z GRZYBAMI}

  • Make your own if possible (see how on the website), but if you go with store-bought sauerkraut, make sure it only includes cabbage and salt. 

    Soft and delicate pierogi dough resembles the texture of pasta dough, and the filling is savoury and slightly tangy. You'll be able to make out the nutty, earthy taste of wild mushrooms.

    Filling:
  • 27 oz can of sauerkraut
  • 8oz crimini mushrooms
  • 1oz dried shittake mushrooms
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 + 3 tbs of butter
  • Dough:
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 600 ml warm water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for at least 1 hour. Boil on low heat for about 20 minutes, or until soft. Drain but reserve the water. Cool and mince.

  2. Heat 2 tbs of butter in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add minced onion. Shred the crimini mushrooms and add to the pan. Sauté until golden brown. Add sauerkraut (liquid and all) to the pan, add mushrooms, vegetable broth, mushroom water and pepper. Heat through and cook uncovered until all liquid evaporated (about 30 min). Add remaining butter, stir and cool. The filling is ready!

  3. To make the dough, place egg and salt in bowl first, whisk lightly. Add flour and water. Mix until ingredients combine and form a dough ball. Take out a portion of it (probably about a third) onto a floured surface and roll out. Stuff the perogies with mushroom mixture.

  4. Boil in a large pot with tbsp oil and tbsp salt until perogies float to the top.

  5. Spread perogies on a large surface so they are not touching or serve immediately. You can also brown them in butter until golden brown. Minced onion and bacon bits make an awesome topping.

NOTES

I tripled the recipe and froze the pierogi by placing on a tray into the freezer so they are not sticking together and once frozen transferring into a gallon zip lock bag. Then, for a quick dinner, boil them until they float to the surface and brown in butter.

 

 

POLISH APPLE CAKE {JABŁECZNIK}

Warm and tangy apple filling surrounded by a soft and flaky lemony crust. How do you say no to this? You don't.

During the “apple season” babcia would task the kids to bring a basket full of apples home. She’s peel, core, shred and then finally cook the sweet fruit. 

INGREDIENTS

  • Crust:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 yolk (reserve the egg white)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 14 tbs (2 sticks minus 2 tbs) / 200 g of butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Filling:
  • about 1 pound tart apples (I like Granny Smith)
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Crust: Whip the egg + egg yolk with sugar. Add flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Add cold butter. Mix until just combined.

  2. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

  3. Filling: Peel and core the apples. Shred on grater and add to a deep pan. Add sugar, zest and lemon juice and cook until all juice evaporates (about 30 min). Set aside to cool.

  4. Preheat oven to 400F.

  5. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x9in baking dish.

  6. Cut the dough in half and grate dough straight into the baking dish. Distribute on bottom and up the sides. Scoop filling onto bottom crust and cover with other half of dough.

  7. Whisk egg with water and brush onto the top of the crust.

  8. Bake for 45-50 min or until crust is golden brown.

POLISH CHRISTMAS BEETROOT BROTH WITH MUSHROOM DUMPLINGS {BARSZCZ WIGILIJNY Z USZKAMI}

POLISH CHRISTMAS BEETROOT BROTH WITH MUSHROOM DUMPLINGS {BARSZCZ WIGILIJNY Z USZKAMI}

Christmas beetroot broth is a savoury, lightly sour soup that was made once a year in my home, reserved strictly for Christmas Eve dinner, along with the other 11 dishes served. A small portion of barszcz Wigilijny is served with 4-5 wild mushroom-filled dumplings as the opening dish, warming up everyone’s appetite and brining the traditional tastes of Christmas into the air. It’s tangy, earthy and sweet taste is complemented by a mossy and deep flavour of wild mushrooms that cannot be delivered by any other dish that I’ve ever tasted. It is original and absolutely irresistible.

This is a vegetarian version of barszcz, as many Poles observe Advent up until Christmas Day. Therefore, all Christmas Eve dishes are vegetarian or made with fish.

Although this vegetarian version takes a little bit of prep, it is all worth the time. What I mean is that the beets sit on the counter and sour (or ferment), so it doesn’t really require extra work, just time.

 

INGREDIENTS

To make the starter:

  • About 1 lbs / 0.5 kg of fresh beets
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tbs of salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • A piece of rye, pumpernickel or sourdough bread (if you have)
  • 1 quart / 4 cups of boiled and cooled water
  • Additionally:
  • A pickling crock or glass jar
  • To make the broth:
  • 2 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 60 g of dried wild mushrooms *
  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 1/2 of celery root
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1/4 of an onion burnt straight on a gas burner
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 6 each peppercorns and allspice (whole)
  • 1/2 c + 1/2 c of vinegar (4%)
  • 2-3 medium beets
  • 1 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tbs of butter
  • Sprinkle of dried marjoram
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Wash, peel and slice your beets into thin slices. Place in a clean glass or ceramic pickling container. Add sugar, salt, garlic, bread and add water. Set on the counter for 5 days to sour.

  2. One night before you're ready to cook broth, place dried mushrooms in a pot and add 2.5 cups of water to soak (made sure it's large enough to fit about 8 cups of liquid). Next day to soaking mushrooms add cleaned and peeled celery root, carrots, parsnip, celery stalk, onion, peppercorns, allspice and salt and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid and return it to the pot. Reserve the vegetables.

  3. Strain beets that have been souring, add 1/2 c of vinegar to them to prevent from losing rich red color.

  4. Clean and peel fresh beets, slice thinly and add to mushroom/vegetable broth. Also add the beets from souring. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove beets. Add sour beet water to the mushroom/vegetable broth and heat up throughout, but DO NOT BOIL.

  5. To finish off add butter, marjoram and crushed garlic. Taste. If its too sour/vinegary, add a bit more sugar. Also add a bit more salt, if needed.

NOTES

Beet soup can be difficult as it loses colour fast. Vinegar can help prevent it, but sometimes you may find it turning brown. If this happens, don't fret. Even if it loses colour this does not affect the taste.