Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Three Course Polish Dinner

When I lived in Eastern Europe, I learned that dinner included three courses and everyone stayed at the table until dinner was finished. In fact, it was considered rude for anyone to leave the table even if they were finished eating and there was only one person left, not yet finished. As I wrote in a previous post, eating is social. In America, we wonder what is happening to the American family, we wonder why so many Americans are obese, we wonder why certain illnesses and disease are on the rise. Though concern for what we eat, no one wonders if it has anything to do with the way we eat which is in a hurry, alone, over the sink or in front of the computer.
A simple three course dinner is not expensive nor time consuming. Start a soup stock on either Saturday or Sunday morning, or evening. It requires no more than submerging a whole chicken in a large pot of water and adding an onion and salt to be basic. This stock will take you through the week becoming a new soup every night not just one kind that everyone is tired of eating the second day.

There is an old fable - The Story of Stone Soup that goes something like this: a traveling man came into a village and sought a place to stay the night and have a simple meal. An old woman and child approached him and said that this was a poor village and food was scarce. She said he could stay in her barn but as for food, she had none. The traveling man agreed. After he settled in the barn, he knocked to the old woman's door and asked for a pot and if he could fill it from the well. She said yes but what for. He said he was going to make stone soup. The woman was a curious and so she asked how and if she could help. The traveling man said of course. They got the pot of water going on a fire. Then the man took out a stone and threw it into the pot. They watched it boil. A neighbor came by and asked what they were doing. The woman told the neighbor. The neighbor wanted to help too and asked what he could do. The traveling man asked if he had salt since the stone he had used so many times was losing its salt. Yes, the man said and he got salt. The next neighbor came by and the same thing happened, this time the contribution was a few cloves of garlic and a sprig of rosemary. The word got round and people started coming with all kinds of things to make stone soup. Then everyone sat down to a lovely soup dinner.

3 course dinner.
You will need to buy a whole chicken (remember this will stock can be for all week) I bought a whole chicken at Aldi for less than $4.00. Soup stock for every night of the week for less than $4.00. Wow! Into that pot went 2 tbs of sea salt. (this is not salty, given the large stock pot with at least 6 six cups of water) The best way to judge the amount of water is to place your whole chicken into a large empty pot (the largest one you have) and cover with water til the whole chicken is covered and floating. Add your salt, and one whole large onion peeled and cut into quarters. I also sprinkle in my concoction of dried herb seasoning. It is a good idea to let the stock perk for at least 90 min. before removing your whole chicken, usually it will not be overcooked and easy to take from the pot. Now that you have stock, you can decide which kind of soup you want, I like to make chicken noodle as the first soup of the week. You can choose whichever pasta noodle you prefer, my husband likes both the short and long egg noodle. The pasta 'noodles' are cooked separately and put into individual soup bowls, not into the stock. Serve!

The second course is pierogi and veal or lamb chops; buy as much or take from the freezer as you will need to serve. I like the Kasia brand of pierogi, potato with onion or bacon or cheddar cheese. Any of those will be delicious. A package of 10 is only $3.50. As for the cost of the chops, you can expect to pay  no more than 5-6.00 dollars for 4 chops
The chops should be started before the pierogi (which only have to be boiled for 8 min.)

Heat your covered skillet over medium high heat adding 3 tbs of coconut oil and olive oil. Season chops with salt and red pepper flakes and rub them each with about 1 tablespoon of chopped sage. Rub the sage into meat on both sides of each chop. As they start to fry, get the water boiling for the pierogi; once water is rolling, add pierogi. Turn over the chops as they cook. After 10 min, melt butter into the oil  and cover, cooking an additional 5-7 minutes on each side and transfer to warm platter and let them rest. Back to the pierogi, they should be soft and ready to drain. Take a platter or large low lipped bowl, ladle the pierogi onto the serving plate/bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil and stir, this will keep them from sticking to each other. Take another platter for the chops. Add wine to the pan and scrape up drippings. Spoon drippings down over the chops; cover and wait to serve.. til everyone is ready!

I always put on the table a small bowl of sour cream, a must when serving potato 'ruskie' pierogi.

The third course is as simple as you want it to be. My sweetie likes cold coffee with flavored cream and a homemade cookie or almond biscotti. You can also serve fresh fruit, pears are my favorite. The point is to keep everyone around the table for a daily dose of reconnection through good food and conversation.

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