Polish Street Vendor Food!
Zapiekanka is a baguette that is split lengthwise, then topped with savory items and cheese. Zapiekanka should be baked till the baguette is fairly crisp. The cheese should only be melted and not browned. Placing Zapiekanka directly on a stone slab in an oven is a good way to give the bread a crunchy texture.
Zapiekanka can be cut a few inches long or a mile long! Two foot long Zapiekanka with a minimum of toppings is a good cheap street food munch. Ketchup is often painted on this snack sandwich. Sometimes funny sayings or a thought for the day is written on Zapiekanka with ketchup. This adds to the fun of this casual street vendor style open face sandwich.
When rich heavy ingredients are chosen for toppings, a hot Zapiekanka is nice for warming up on a cold day. Lighter toppings make this hot sandwich perfect for summer. The only required ingredient for this sandwich is cheese, but many say that vegetables are also required. The cheese selection is usually Madrigal, Emmentaler or a fresh local cheese that easily melts. Bleu Cheese varieties and Cheddar are not traditional, but they are an option.
Zapiekanka is not just street food. It is also a favorite home cooked hot sandwich. There are specific names for traditional Zapiekanka recipes. Some are spicy and some are topped with meat. One version is the equivalent of "pot luck." Whatever topping is handy is place on the bread.
Vegetable Zapiekanka by far is the most popular variation. The vegetable mixture is usually loaded with mushrooms. The vegetable mixture for the Zapiekanka in the pictures was lightly sautéed, then braised with vegetable broth till they were tender. Herbs that are commonly used in Polish cuisine were added to the vegetable mixture to enhance the savory flavor.
Wood Ear Mushrooms have many health benefits and they grow worldwide. Wood Ear Mushrooms have a light flavor and they actually have a fairly crisp texture even after cooking, so these mushrooms are perfect for a sandwich.
One of the vegetable Zapiekanka above was topped with sliced roasted pork. Country Style Pork Ribs are not really a rib section cut. Country Style Ribs are a boneless section of pork that is cut from the shoulder section near the ribs. This section usually has very lean thick sections of meat that is separated by thin fat and sinew. Lean meat is usually preferred for sandwiches, so the fat should be trimmed off.
*This entire recipe yields:
• 1 Foot Long Vegetable Zapiekanka with Pork & 1 Foot Long Vegetable Zapiekanka
The Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms should be soaked overnight
This recipe yields enough for 1 foot long Zapiekanka.
Step 1: Select a 6 to 8 ounce piece of Boneless Country Style Rib.
Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Step 2: Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Sauté the pork till it is lightly browned on all sides.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Step 3: Place the pork on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
Roast the pork in a 325ºF oven till it is fully cooked. (A probe thermometer should read 145ºF to 155ºF)
Keep the roast pork warm on a stove top.
This recipe yields enough for 2 foot long Zapiekanka.
Any vegetables can be used and there should be plenty of mushrooms in the mixture. The vegetable mixture in the pictures tasted nice. Brussel sprouts originated in northern France and Poland, so they were a natural choice. Greens that cook quickly, like spinach, should be added last.
Step 1: Soak 10 dried wood ear mushrooms in water overnight in a refrigerator.
Drain the water off of the mushrooms.
Cut the wood ear mushrooms into bite size pieces and set them aside.
Step 2: Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
Briefly sauté till the garlic is aromatic.
Step 3: Add 5 or 6 brussel sprouts that are cut into wedges.
Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced peeled celery.
Add 3/4 cup of coarsely chopped onion.
Add 1/3 cup of coarsely chopped red bell pepper.
Add the reserved wood ear mushrooms.
Sauté till the vegetables till a few golden brown highlights appear.
Step 4: Add 2 cups of vegetable broth.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of cider vinegar.
Add 1 pinch of thyme.
Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
Add 1 pinch of dill weed.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
Step 5: Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
Simmer and reduce till only about 1/3 cup of liquid remains.
Step 6: Add 3 cups of baby spinach leaves.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced Italian Parsley.
Gently stir till the spinach wilts.
Step 7: Remove the pan from the heat.
Keep the vegetables warm on a stove top.
Vegetable Zapiekanka & Roast Pork Zapiekanka:
Step 1: Cut 1 piece of French Baguette that is 12" long.
Split the bread in half lengthwise.
Step 2: Spread the vegetable topping on each baguette half.
Sprinkle a generous amount of grated Madrigal Cheese or Emmentaler Cheese over the vegetables. (About 1/2 cup on each Zapiekanka.)
Step 3: Place the 2 Zapiekanka on a sheet pan.
Bake in a 350ºF oven till the bread is crusty and the cheese melts.
Place the Zapiekanka on a serving tray.
Step 4: Cut the roasted pork into thin slices.
Overlap slices of the pork on one of the Vegetable Zapiekanka.
Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs and pickles of your choice.
Zapiekanka is a nice open face sandwich!