-scale=1.0,maximum-scale=1.0" : "width=1100"' name='viewport'/> Plum Street Chili: A Basket for the Polka Queen

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Basket for the Polka Queen

There are about 600,000 Folks in Philadelphia who think of themselves as Polish. Some like me are children of Polish emigres fleeing politiics or famine and some are new citizens. All those good Folks like to eat good Polish Food. I am going to tell you where I find it.

I buy for my Mother, the Polka Queen, who lives in New Jersey. My Mother is picky. Mother could cook anything. She once made planked shad with a duchesse potato border when my Dad's Boss came to dinner. At 90, she does not cook or shop much anymore. So I make her a little basket.

I start with Swiacki's. Oh the foody joy of shopping there! I choose three kinds of pierogis for the basket. Pierogis are little pockets of tender dough filled with varied delights. Try Sweet Cabbage, Jalapeno Cheese, Buffalo Chicken, Potato Cheese and other flavors. Warning: do not boil these darlings. Saute in butter on a low flame in a heavy bottomed pan with a tight lid until golden brown on both sides.

Swiacki's Polish Sausage (Kielbasa) is excellent. If you are lucky, you will shop on a day when the Lady of the House has bits of Kielbasa Appetizers warming in the slow cooker. She hands you a bite size bit of that sausage and you swoon when you snatch it off the toothpick. The Swiacki Brothers are Philly's Kielbasa Kings. The brothers make it both smoked and fresh.

I always put a Babka, a Polish Sweet Bread, in the basket at Easter. At Swiacki they come in flavors like Chocolate and Raspberry and Prune. Shop early. Especially at Easter. I have seen lines going out the door and around the block. Poles take Easter seriously. 

Here is a link to their website from which I took the recipe below:

1 – pound kielbasa
1 cup dry white wine
1 heaping tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of brandy
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cut kielbasa into one-inch slices.  Cut each slice into quarters.  Put kielbasa in heavy skillet large enough to hold all the pieces in a single layer. Cover with wine.
Bring the wine to a boil.  Cook, uncovered, until wine almost has evaporated and looks syrupy, about 12 minutes.  Stir in brown sugar, mustard and brandy.  Cook one minute more.
Toss kielbasa with parsley and pepper to taste.  Serve with toothpicks for spearing and thin rounds of crusty bread for dipping in the juices.

There are many excellent Polish shops in Philadelphia. I do not pretend this is going to be a thorough list of every single Polish shop in Philadelphia or nearby. It is where I shop. I am going to report on them one at a time. Maybe you know a good place? Leave a comment and I will go there and give it a try. And write about it.