Baked beans – a dish that includes beans, boiled or steamed with sauce tomato, along with additives. It is one of the most popular dishes in Polish cuisinehttps://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasolka_po_bretońsku (Translated to English).
Fasolka po Bretońsku or “Breton Beans” in English, is the Polish name for baked beans. They taste very similar to British Baked Beans, with the addition of some smoked sausage and bacon.
There’s quite a bit of speculation on the internet about why this dish that is popular throughout Poland is named after a region in France. Given that I imagine bean and meat stews have been a staple in both Poland and France since the dawn of time, and some particularly Polish elements to the dish, it seems unlikely that the recipe is completely an import. When we consider that in classic French cuisine a dish “a la Bretonne” is served or garnished with white beans, and that a couple hundred years ago having a French chef was a status symbol for all the rich and powerful people across Europe, we can guess that someone gave a fancy sounding French name to a common local dish. I can’t say whether they published a recipe, or if it just became that dish that everyone HAD to have at their dinner parties for a season or two until the name trickled down to the lower classes.
Obviously the most “Polish” element of this dish is the kielbasa, smoked sausage being the food product Poland is most famous for. I’ll admit to not knowing much more than that about Polish cuisine, but according to my research into this recipe, marjoram is one of the key flavors in Polish cuisine, or at least essential for Polish bean dishes, with the folk wisdom that it helps the digestibility of the beans.
In Poland this dish would be made with Piekny Jas beans. Several of the recipes I looked at called for dry lima beans, while others called for “large white beans”. Based on pictures of Piekny Jas, I don’t think limas would be my first choice. I used cannellini beans.
Fasolka po Bretońsku
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 2:20 plus soaking time
1 ⅔ cups large dry white beans
6 cups water
6 ½ oz bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 ½ cups smoked kielbasa, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
15 oz tomato puree
⅛ teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon dry marjoram
2 bay leaves
3-4 allspice berries
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups crushed or diced tomato, in place of puree
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
¾ Tablespoon butter, for sautéing.
1 ½ Tablespoons Wondra flour, to thicken
28 oz canned white beans, in place of dry
1 ½ liters chicken broth, in place of water
6 tomatoes, diced
Rinse your beans and add cool water to cover by several inches. Leave to soak overnight.
Drain beans and place in a soup pot or dutch oven with six cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, until beans are soft.
Meanwhile, place bacon in a skillet and place over medium heat. When fat starts to render, add onion and kielbasa. Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until onion and kielbasa begin to caramelize.
Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add tomato puree and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.
When your beans are soft there should be just enough liquid left to barely cover the beans- if there is too much liquid, remove the excess. Add the tomato-kielbasa mixture to the beans, along with seasonings. Simmer, uncovered, for another 30-60 minutes.
Taste for seasoning. Garnish with fresh parsely and serve with crusty bread.
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I just emailed my Polish daughter-in-law and asked her why she doesn’t make us this dish. It looks and sounds exactly like what I like.
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