Read on for a trio of Polish recipes: Roast Pork Loin with Applesauce Glaze; Finger Cookies Topped with Almonds; Christmas Eve Beet Soup.
POLISH ROAST PORK LOIN WITH APPLESAUCE GLAZE
A great recipe for fall dining!
5 to 5-1/2 pound pork loin, with backbone sawed through lengthwise but left attached and tied to the loin in 4 or 5 places with kitchen cord
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, as desired
8 whole cloves
1 cup thick applesauce
Oven 350 degrees. Rub pork all over with salt and pepper. Stud pork with cloves, spacing along its length as evenly as possible.
Place pork loin fat side up in a shallow roasting pan, large enough to hold comfortably. Insert the tip of a meat thermometer horizontally at least 2 inches into one side of the loin. Do not touch fat or bone.
Roast undisturbed in the middle of the oven 1 hour. Remove pan from oven and with a spatula, spread applesauce evenly over the top. Roast about 30 minutes longer or until applesauce has become a golden brown glaze and the meat thermometer has become a golden brown glaze and the meat thermometer indicates a temperature of 160 to 165 degrees.
Transfer pork loin to a heated platter and let rest for about 10 minutes for easier cutting. Traditionally, the pork is served with pickled plums and sauerkraut & apple salad.
FINGER COOKIES TOPPED WITH ALMONDS
Pastry is said to be the “crowing glory” of any Polish meal. Here is a delicious almond butter cookie recipe.
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 hard cooked egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 pound plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Sift 2 cups flour and confectioners’ sugar into a deep mixing bowl. With the back of a spoon, rub cooked egg yolks through a fine sieve directly into the flour and sugar mixture. Stir until well combined, then add the vanilla and beat in 1/2 pound butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue to beat vigorously with the spoon, or knead with your hands, unti dough is smooth and can be gathered into a compact ball. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate dough at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With a pastry brush, spread a large baking sheet with remaining tablespoon soft butter. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons flour over the butter and tip sheet from side to side to spread evenly. Invert sheet and rap bottom sharply to remove the excess flour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch square that is less than 1/4-inch thick. Trim edges to make a prefect square. Cut dough into quarters and with a long wide metal spatula, carefully transfer quarters to the baking sheet, placing them side by side in their original positions. Cover the dough with a sheet of waxed paper lightly dusted with flour. Gently roll the dough again to join the seams. Peel off the wax paper and brush the entire surface of the dough with the beaten egg.
Sprinkle top of dough evenly with the cup of sliced almonds pressing them gently into the surface. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. With a lightly buttered knife or pastry wheel, cut the pastry into strips about 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. With a metal spatula, carefully transfer the mazurek to a wire cake rack and let them cool to room temperature. Store in a tightly covered container for 2 to 3 weeks.
CHRISTMAS EVE BEET SOUP
A colorful Polish vegetable broth.
3 ounces imported European dried mushrooms, prefereably dried Polish mushrooms
4 cups boiling water
2-1/2 pounds medium-sized firm young beets, peeled and coarsely grated
5 cups cold water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon strained fresh lemon juice
Put mushrooms in a 2 to 3 quart enamel or stainless saucepan; pour boiling water over. Soak at room temperature 2 hours. Simmer over low heat, uncovered, until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup.
Drain stock in a fine seive over a bowl; reserve stock for soup. Mushrooms can be be used for another recipe or to make tiny dumplings usually served with this soup (uszka).
In a 3 to 4 quart enamel or stainless saucepan, bring beets and water to boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook uncovered 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in vinegar and 2 teaspoons salt.
Simmer partially covered 30 minutes. Strain beet stock in a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing down hard on beets with back of a spoon to extract all the juice before discarding them.
Return beet stock to saucepan in which it was cooked. Add mushroom stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil over high heat. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve at once.
Recipes slightly adapted from A Quintet of Cuisines -Foods of the World by Time-Life Books