Magic Mushrooms

Every year when we make our annual pilgrimage to Philadelphia, we set aside time to go to Krakus Market – a Polish grocery and restaurant. (  We eat a huge lunch, ordering way too much food – perhaps some Golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls), Bigos (a meaty stew), Placki (potato pancakes), and Borscht (beet soup). It is just so good and so rare for us to get up there (or to Hamtramck) that we typically stuff ourselves. Before we leave, we hit the grocery store and stock up, so I can cook some authentic Polish food when we get back home.

Tonight was one of those nights that I felt compelled to dig into my stash and make a Polish feast! I grabbed a pack of Adamba Polish Style Cabbage Soup mix for a starter along with a Silesian Style Potato Dumpling Mix. (I know I don't usually use mixes but I can't resist trying something new like these)

Then, I spied the container of dried Polish wild mushrooms staring out of the pantry shelf at me. I have never cooked with these before – ever – but noticed every single Polish grocery and deli we visited (both in Philly and Michigan) had copious rows of the expensive, funky dried brown mulch looking things, and eventually bought a 3.5 ounce jar of the intimidating Polish Borowiki. These highly prized and most popular of the edible Polish mushrooms are carefully picked in the forests of Poland and dried for later use. They are essential to many Polish dishes including mushroom soup, mushroom pierogi and Hunter’s stew (Bigos).

I briefly considered cream of mushroom soup but already had the cabbage soup thing going, so I hit the internet. Amazingly enough, I found a website called  There, I discovered a recipe featuring the "mulch" and some chicken breasts. It sounded good and relatively simple, so I got out my cast iron skillet and got to cookin’. First, though, I had to soak the mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes.  And, just like magic, the mulch plumped up into recognizable mushroom-looking pieces.  Amazing. 

The end result was a plate loaded with tender chicken coated with a rich, thick and delicious mushroom laden sauce, the Silesian dumplings, a bowl of cabbage soup and a side of sauerkraut left over from the German style ribs I cooked Sunday (pork ribs rubbed with onion salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder and paprika laid on a bed of sauerkraut, sealed in a foil package with a bottle of amber ale and baked at 275 for about 4 hours until the meat fell off the bones).

No longer will I be scared of dried Polish wild mushrooms though the price I paid is terrifying enough.

Try the recipe – it was delicious!

Polish Chicken and Wild Mushrooms
• 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (cut into halves for a total of 8 pieces)
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• salt and ground black pepper to taste
• 1T butter
• 1T olive oil
• 1oz dried Polish wild mushrooms (soaked for 30 minutes in warm water and drained but not squeezed)
• 1.5 cups vegetable stock
• 1 teaspoon cornstarch
• 1t dried parsley
• 1/2t garlic powder
• ground black pepper

1. Season flour with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour. Lay onto a sheet of wax paper. In a nonstick pan (I used my cast iron), combine the oil and butter or margarine and heat over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned on both sides and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

2. To the same pan, add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes. Combine the water, stock, cornstarch, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is thickened.

3. Return chicken to the pan and cook until chicken is heated through. Serve.

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