Over the last year, I've taken on more and more unique cuisine. Although most would not consider Polish, or pretty much any food from Eastern Europe, particularly if you live in western NY, to be particularly exotic or adventurous, they would be wrong.
Aspic for one, is a dish from a distant time and no modern palate, most especially white bread Americans, could handle the cold gelatin with it's bits of meat and fat and colorless vegetables immobilized until melted on the tongue. Or calf brain cutlets. A favorite of my Scottish Nana, she would have her daughter, my Grandma Betty, stew them in butter and then fry them in bread crumbs and eat them with strawberry jelly and minced pickles, just like the people of southern Poland. Or how about beef hearts braised in heavy cream and salty brown gravy stuffed with barley pearls? No? Too exotic? Too adventurous?
With all of this "adventuring" has come offers around the globe to taste and sample cultural gems. Pictured above are Boletus, Borowiki dried forest mushrooms from the primeval forests of Podlaskie. I received an email at the beginning of December, asking if I would like to try free mushrooms. Skeptical, I opened the website, and discovered the "Green Lungs" of Poland. This operation takes place in forests over 8,000 years old for only a few weeks a year. Harvests are done by hand, with families going out together and making a day of it.
I recieved this mailer right before Yule, below is the recipe I used them in.
Indyk z nadzieniem pieczarkowym or Roast turkey with mushrooms
Cook turkey gizzard, heart, and neck in 4 cups water along with 1 portion diced kale and several peppercorns and allspice grains 1 1/2 hours or until giblets are tender.
Soak 1/2 pound stale bread in 1 cup milk. When soggy, run through meat grinder with giblets, kale, and raw turkey liver. Grind only the skin and meat of neck, discarding bones. I used a stick blender since I didn't have a grinder.
In 3 tablespoons butter simmer 12 ounces fresh, chopped mushrooms and 2 chopped onions until tender. Combine with ground mixture, add 2 beaten egg yolks (or 2 tablespoons of sour cream), the leftover milk if any,
several tablespoons bread crumbs, 2 beaten egg whites (or 1 tablespoon more of sour cream) , 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh dill and parsley and salt & pepper to taste.
Fill turkey with dressing, pin or sew up closed, and roast in 400 degree fahrenheit oven, allowing 25 minutes cooking time per pound. Baste alternately with melted butter and a little water (about 1 cup) and later with the pan drippings.
During last 1/2 hour of roasting, add another 12 ounces or more chopped or thinly sliced fresh mushrooms
(I reconstituted the dried mushrooms for this part) to pan drippings and let them simmer.
Pour the pan drippings and mushrooms over the sliced turkey and dressing on a platter or thicken with a little flour and sour cream, simmer briefly, season to taste, and serve in gravy boat.
We had this for our New Year's dinner with a large salad with sweet peppers, minced cold leftover brussels sprouts, and pomegranate seeds. It was outstanding!