(PLACKI PO ZBÓJNICKU)
- For the Goulash:
- 20oz of beef entrecote (cut into thick, quarter pieces)
- 2 cups of beef stock (prepare this in advance or purchase ready-made at your local grocery store)
- 1 white onion (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
- 15 small, marinated onions
- 1 leek
- 10oz of champignon mushrooms
- Oil for frying (rapeseed works great)
- 1 tablespoon of clarified butter
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1.5 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 cups of red wine (your preference)
- Salt and pepper for taste
- For the Potato Pancakes:
- 2 lbs. of Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled)
- 1 medium white onion
- 1 ball of nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper for taste
- 3 tablespoons of flour (spelt grain flour is preferred)
- Chopped leek for garnish (you can use a bit from the stem you’ll be using for the goulash)
- Oil for frying (if you can find it at a local grocery store, goose fat, is recommended. This is a very healthy type of fat to use for frying and it will give the pancakes a very characteristic taste)
The food of Poland’s highlanders traditionally consists of only a few staple ingredients (the only products that grew in the climate conditions and infertile grounds beneath the Tatras); yet even in its simplicity it makes for a unique, hearty and warming cuisine. Typical products that make up the cuisine of the region are of course sheep’s milk cheeses, cabbage, potatoes, cereals, lamb, mutton and trout. Visiting Poland’s Podhale region you can sample a number of traditional dishes that incorporate these ingredients and they will not only fill you up but also warm you up after a day spent on the slopes or hiking through Poland’s majestic mountains. Of all the regional favorites, however, there is one popular dish featured on almost every restaurant menu in Zakopane and one that nearly every visitor familiar with the region comes here to enjoy! These are “Placki po Zbojnicku,” roughly translated as “Rebels’ Cakes.” A stack of crispy potato pancakes topped with a hearty meat goulash, sour cream and melted bundz, though they are not strictly a traditional dish of the region, they are an unbelievable treat that has certainly been voted the tourists’ favorite.
The recipe I share in episode #113 of Flavor of Poland is my signature version of this favorite plate of Zakopane and Poland’s Podhale region. You’ll see I’ve added a few details to give my version of these cakes a special note and character - rebel that I am ;) This dish is one of my favorite flavors of Poland and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
~ Aleksandra August
- Clean, and slice the leek. Take a chef’s knife and cut off the dark green leaves of the leek. Thinly slice the remaining portion of the leek into rings and discard the root end.
- Sauté the onions, garlic and leek. Set a medium size pot on your stovetop and set to a medium level heat. Pour in some rapeseed oil and allow it to gather some heat. Toss in the onions and garlic (chopped) and sauté until they begin to turn translucent. Then, add in the sliced rings of leek. Sift a generous pinch of salt over the ingredients in the pan and stir. Decrease the heat intensity of your burner (halfway between low and medium) and allow the ingredients in the pot to simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Then remove them from the pot and set aside in a mixing bowl.
- Cut the mushrooms. Cut each mushroom into small, quarter pieces and set aside.
- Cook the meat. Add a bit more oil to the bottom of the pot that you just used to saute the onion, garlic and leek. Turn your burner up to about a medium heat and add the beef into the pot. Let the meat start to brown just a little bit (do not fully cook yet) and then continue to the next step.
- Prepare the goulash. Once your beef has gained a bit of a brown tone add the vegetables (onion, garlic, leek) back into the pot, continuing to stir as the ingredients simmer. Add in the tomato paste and stir in thoroughly. Finally, pour in the wine to deglaze the ingredients in the pot (this keeps all the flavors in the sauce). Give the contents of the pot a few good stirs. Once the alcohol evaporates and the sauce comes to a boil add in the beef stock. Flavor by adding in the soy sauce and salt. Stir once more, cover the pot with a lid and allow the sauce to simmer for about 25 minutes.
- Sauté the mushroom and marinated onion. Toss the clarified butter over a frying pan and add in the mushrooms and marinated onions once the butter has melted. Continue to stir until the mushrooms have fully released their liquid and it has evaporated from the pan. Continue to stir until the mushrooms gain a golden brown tone and the onion becomes translucent.
- Finish the goulash. Stir the sautéed mushrooms and onions into the simmering meat sauce. Give the contents of the pot one final stir. Cover the pot with its lid and place it into the oven to stew for 2 hours at an oven temperature of 300º Fahrenheit.
- Make the potato pancakes:
- Grate the potatoes. Using the medium-size holes on your grater, grate each potato into a large mixing bowl.
- Grate the onion. Using the smallest holes on your grater, grate one medium sized onion over the potatoes.
- Add in the nutmeg. Grate half the ball of nutmeg into the bowl using another smaller hole section of your grater.
- Stir and strain the liquid. Stir all the contents of the bowl and toss them into a strainer to squeeze out the excess liquid from the potatoes. Once done, transfer the potatoes back into the mixing bowl.
- Add the flour and the eggs. Add the flour and eggs to the grated potatoes. Add a bit of salt and pepper for taste and stir together until thoroughly blended.
- *Fry the pancakes! Set a medium-size frying pan on your stove over a medium heat. Pour in a bit of goose fat (or another preferred oil) over the bottom of your pan. Once the oil has heated begin frying each pancake by taking one, big tablespoon of the potato batter and placing it over the pan, pressing and smoothing it into a flat, round cake. Allow each cake to achieve a crisp, golden brown tone on each side and then set aside on a plate covered with a paper towel to strain from excess oil. You can fry about 3-4 pancakes on your pan at a time. Continue this process until all the cakes are done. Transfer your pancakes onto a serving platter and sift a little bit of salt over the top as a final touch.
- Serve and ENJOY! Prepare your highlander feast by placing one pancake on a serving dish and pouring one ladleful of goulash over the top. Place another pancake on top. Pour one more ladleful of goulash over its top as well. Continue this process to create a stack of about 3-4 cakes, make sure to add a final scoop of goulash at the top. Finish off with a dab of sour cream and a teaspoon of chopped leek on top. Cut in and enjoy this flavorful and vibrant dish of Poland’s stunning Podhale region!
*In Zakopane these cakes are usually made much larger, filling almost the full circumference of the pan. You can opt to make your cakes much larger but I prefer them a bit smaller. Using a regular kitchen tablespoon, you should be able to make medium pancakes about 4 inches in diameter.