A very belated Happy Casimir Pulaski Day to those with Illinois and/or Polish ties. I happen to have both, so I enjoy celebrating this little-known holiday.
To belatedly celebrate the day, I decided to make a Polish casserole. I turned to the Internet where I found just one casserole that sort of fit the bill. Using that base list of main ingredients, I continued my search. When I found an actual Polish name for something akin to what I wanted to make, the light bulb went off.
In this modern world, I could actually search Polish websites for the ultimate Polish casserole. It wasn’t long before I found a foodie blog that was translated from Polish that had a title based on a Czech novel and a URL in Italian.
I ended up making zapiekane ziemniaki kapusta i kielbasa — that’s Polish for roasted potatoes, cabbage and sausage casserole — with some, er, not very Polish ingredients. I opted for a fancy andouille sausage over Americanized kielbasa. I couldn’t easily find piri-piri pepper, so I used jalapeno. I’m not sure I should have used gouda as the cheese topping.
No matter the random ingredients or that the Google Translate function didn’t always work — I’m still trying to parse “Po frying onions on gold throw squeezed juice sauerkraut…” — this casserole turned out awesome.
It may not be the most Polish-of-Polish casseroles, but I think that Casimir Pulaski — a native of Poland who fought alongside Hungarian Michael Kovats de Fabriczy in the American Revolutionary War and is credited as a founder of the U.S. cavalry — would be pretty pleased.
2 large potatoes (about 1.1 pounds)
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cup smoked sausage (use your preference), chopped
3/4 cup sauerkraut (I use Bubbie’s fermented kraut, as it’s crispier)
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8 ounces sour cream
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup gouda, shredded
Butter, for coating and frying
Boil potatoes to al dente, about 25 minutes. Chill while preparing remaining ingredients, or prepare a day ahead. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole dish with butter.
Fry onions, pepper and sausage in 1 tablespoon butter until onions are softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. In medium bowl, mix together sour cream, egg, herbs and spices.
Thinly slice potatoes, and layer on the bottom of the casserole dish. Top potatoes with sour cream mixture. Spread onions, sausage and pepper on top of sour cream mixture; then top with sauerkraut. Finally, spread shredded gouda on top.
Bake about 45 minutes until cheese is melted and cream mixture is bubbling. Let cool for about 10 minutes, and enjoy!