Polish Sauerkraut and Mushroom Hand Pies {Paszteciki z Kapustą i z Grzybami}

Not until recently (probably early 90s) Poland was introduced to America’s favorite fast food: a hamburger. Following the “golden arches”, burger joints started popping up all over town, some better than others providing an alternative to what Poles were used to eating on the go.  I suppose a version of it always existed in the old country in a form of a sandwich, but now there was a new way of call it: fast food.

As exciting as it was to be part of “the west”, with access to food that, for decades we only knew of from worn out magazines passed around from friend to friend, I found myself craving the comfort foods I grew up with. I don’t think I was the only one. Pierogi and naleśniki shops started filling the market gap as the newness of a burger was now wearing off.

There are a few places in my home town of Szczecin that serve Polish food, fast. Some have been around for a couple of decades, opened years before we knew to call it “fast food”.  There is one in particular that I have in mind that has been around for close to 50 years. It’s called “Pasztecik” and it serves pastries stuffed with meats, mushrooms or cheeses much like pierogi filling. There is always a line, and people rarely stop to read the menu, as it has not changed in years. Small space is full of students, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, kids stopping on the way from school, sipping on hot beet broth and rushing to finish their hot pasties before moving on to the next thing on their daily agenda. What we eat may change from time to time, but I guess the need to eat fast will always be there. Next time I go, I will take my time and savor the moment. I’ll stop and think about how awesome it is to be back, and eat my fast food, slow.

In the mean time, I’m recreating the flavors of “Pasztecik” by making my own at home. My all time favorite filling is sauerkraut and mushrooms. Hot and savory filling surrounded by a soft and slightly salty golden brown pastry brings together the comfort food of my childhood and the convenience of fast food of now.

Polish Sauerkraut and Mushroom Hand Pies {Paszteciki z Kapustą i z Grzybami}

  • Yields: 12 hand pies
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 40-45 min

Ingredients

  • Filling:
  • 1 can (14 oz / 400 g) of sauerkraut*
  • 6 oz of mushrooms (baby bella, crimini or portobello mushrooms will do)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbs of butter or oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 6 allspice seeds
  • 1/4 tsp of ground pepper
  • Dough:
  • 3 1/4 c of all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 c / 300 ml warm water
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/5 tsp of instant yeast
  • Additionally:
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients to form dough. Knead until smooth. Set aside.

  2. Chop clean mushrooms and sauté with onions until they're brown around the edges with a pinch of salt. Add bay leave, peppercorns and allspice.

  3. Drain sauerkraut, and roughly chop. Add to mushroom/onion mixture and sauté until all liquid evaporates (about 10 min) - make sure the mixture is completely dry. Set aside to cool.

  4. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.

  5. Divide dough in half and roll out to form a rectangle. Place half of sauerkraut and mushroom filling along the middle of the rolled out dough. Brush edges (all around) of the dough with beaten egg. Fold top half of the rectangle onto filling, and then the bottom onto the dough (see photos below). Flip stuffed roll up-side-down, onto the seam. Cut in half, and then into smaller sections.

  6. Transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Even though each roll is cut, keep cut pieces close together (along the cuts) so the filling doesn't spill out of dry out.

  7. Bake for about 45 min, or until the top is golden brown.

Notes

*if using store bought sauerkraut, make sure to check the ingredients list, and buy the kraut that only has cabbage and salt in it. Some varieties are made with vinegar, and it just does not taste the way it should.

In Poland, 9 times out of 10 this dish will be served with a cup of beet soup (broth).

It makes an awesome “make-ahead” dish, potluck dish or a party dish.

I hope you enjoy it!

Smacznego,

Anna

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