Barbecue in the Polish Forest
As the weather is so beautiful in the UK at the moment, it seems a perfect time to write about the barbecue or 'grill'. I also want to tell you how different a Polish 'Grill' is compared to a British barbecue. Here in England, we consider ourselves lucky if the we have enough good weather for just one barbecue each year. However, right now, due to many of us not being at work thanks to the Covid-19 Pandemic, plus the fact that we are having such wonderful weather; our family has had at least fifteen barbecues over the past few weeks.
In our family,we get the best of both worlds too; the traditional English barbecue food plus all the goodness that Poland offers when it comes to meat, seasoning and condiments.
Most Brits - not all - but most, usually cook frozen burgers, hot dogs, maybe some chicken and very occasionally, ribs. Of course there are folks who prepare everything by hand and make wonderful barbecues, but generally it's hot dogs and burgers.
Polski grill - Kiełbasa
In Poland though, it is very, very different. The Poles know how to do a grill and every grill I have been invited to has been awesome and tasty. Polish delicatessens and supermarkets offer so much variety of Kiełbasa, different colours and tastes from all regions of Poland; maybe we will make a blog post specific to kiełbasa in the future.
Seasoning the meat
Polish people seem to have some kind of seasoning or flavouring for every type of meat and fish. In fact, Kinga went to the local Polish shop this week and picked up a whole bunch of different seasonings in readiness for the weeks to come. Kamis and Prymat both produce good seasoning for the grill.
Other meat - Karkówka and kaszanka
Other meat found at a Polish grill often include Karkówka and kaszanka. Karkówka is pork shoulder and if often a bit fatty. If it is cooked right on the grill it is so tasty, the fat becomes crispy, almost burnt and is delicious, especially if seasoned correctly. Kaszanka is a bit of a speciality - you either love it or hate (the thought of) it. Basically, Kaszanka is blood sausage, a bit like black pudding here in the UK. It is made of a mixture of pig's blood, offal and buckwheat (kasza) and stuffed in a pig intestine. It is usually flavored with onion, black pepper, and marjoram. I agree, it might not sound appetising but on the grill, it is really tasty. I haven't eaten kaszanka for a few years, I think I'll have to get some in for our next grill. Chicken thigh, leg or wings are also common to eat.
Additional items - gherkins, bread and horseradish
In addition to all of this, you could also notice plenty of gherkins or cucumber (ogórki) at Polish grills and there will always be an array of condiments, usually with a bit of a spicy kick to them. Mustard of course is great with pork but 'chrzan' (horseradish) is often preferred, especially with kiełbasa. In Poland, there are many varieties or horseradish and it all depends on your personal taste. Bread often accompanies all of this.
Charcoal, gas or open fire?
Just like here in the UK, Poles use either a gas or traditional charcoal barbecue. Charcoal is preferred by most people as it is believed to add that 'grill' taste to the meat. Sometimes though, if you are lucky enough you may be invited to a grill in the forest (or close to the forest). This often means that someone has made a fire pit and a handmade grill above it. Kinga's uncle often invites us to a place like this. Lots of open space, right near the forest and we spend the day in the sun with Kinga's cousins and their kids eating wonderful food cooked on this really cool grill. The children love this place!
No Polish grill is complete without alcohol. I don't think I have ever been to one without cold beers and of course, a bit later on somebody always finds the vodka. If we are going to a barbecue in the nice warm sun, I always want to have some cold beers with me. A good Polish beer to wash all that Kiełbasa down is really needed! There is no doubt that at some point you will be asked to drink 'just one' shot of vodka; either clear or flavoured vodka. Needless to say, it is never 'just one shot' in Poland.