There are three main ingredients and tastes around Polish Christmas Eve: sauerkraut, dried mushrooms and poppy seed. Well, yes there is plenty of fish too under many guises, but thatâ€™s a topic for another blog. For me, the best thing around the Christmas Eve dinner is that even if we spend it away from home, we can be sure that everything on the table will be vegetarian, or pescatarian.
So, before we move onto the desserts and make a start with poppy seed based recipes, hereâ€™s one more with sauerkraut and mushrooms â€“ a vegetarian stew recipe. In my opinion â€“ itâ€™s marvellous, and actually quite a few meat-eaters relished it a lot too. Worth trying not only on the 24th December, as it will warm up any cold, winter evening.
100g soya chunks
1 cube of vegetarian stock
500g sauerkraut, chopped
50g dried mushrooms
100g prunes, stone out, cut in halves or quarters
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
4 allspice berries
1 tsp sweet chili pepper
1 tsp hot chili pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large pot, bring water to boil and add the vegetable stock cube. Cook the soya chunks for about 4-5 minutes until soft. Drain.
Place the dried mushrooms in a small saucepan, cover with a cup of water and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until soft. Drain (keep the water) and chop roughly.
On a large frying pan with a thick bottom, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion. Cook for about 3 minutes until soft. Add the chopped sauerkraut and the water from cooking the mushrooms. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (You can add a little more water if needed, so that the sauerkraut doesn’t stick to the bottom).
Add the mushrooms, prunes, soya chunks and the seasoning. Add more water to cover the sauerkraut. Cook for about 2-2.5 hours, stirring occasionally. If needed, add a little more water so that the bigos doesn’t stick to the bottom.