Delish! Rochester meat hot sauce: Part 1

Today, we’re going to take a break from serious, theological discussions with some Rochester-style frivolity.

In some previous posts, I wrote about Rochester, New York’s unique contributions to haute cuisine; the delectable Garbage Plate (see here) and the indescribably delicious Zweigle’s brand, pop-open hot dogs (see here). In Rochester, one of the mandatory accoutrements to a “plate,” a burger, or a Zweigle’s hot dog is Rochester meat hot sauce. Nope, we’re not talkin’ chili, folks. We’re talkin’ meat hot sauce.

It’s reported that Rochester meat hot sauce originated with local greasy spoon diner, Nick Tahou Hots, home of the original “Garbage Plate.”

My first experience with Rochester meat hot sauce was back in the late-1960s when our family would pick up burgers to-go at Don & Bob’s (see photo far below) on Monroe Avenue. I witnessed other customers asking for hot sauce on their burger and was curious enough to try it myself. Are you kidding me?!?!?! So delicious! Absolutely NO ketchup or mustard for me on my burger or Zweigle’s white hot. Just meat hot sauce and chopped onions.

Every Rochester burger joint has its own version of the meat hot sauce, some are better than others. The common ingredients are finely-ground, ground beef with cayenne pepper, a little cinnamon, and lots of other spices and seasonings. Some use tomato paste or sauce, others don’t. The hotness meter varies widely from joint to joint, but I like hot, spicy food so that’s never a problem. Savvy Rochesterians avoid local McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s franchises because they don’t have meat hot sauce for their pre-fab burgers.

Some of the Rochester burger joints sell jars of their meat hot sauce over the counter. You can even buy jars of Rochester meat hot sauce at the local supermarkets. Put a few spoonfuls in a cup, heat it up in the microwave for 15 seconds, and voilà, it’s just like being at a local burger joint. Pictured are jars of Momma K’s, Coach Tony’s, and Don’s Original meat hot sauce. A few thoughts on each one:

Momma K’s: No zing to this one. Tastes like “Sloppy Joe” sauce. Strictly for the ladies…er, I mean for more delicate palates.

Coach Tony’s: Has a real meaty, “hamburger-y” taste with LOTS of zing. May be too overpowering for meat hot sauce novices.

Don’s Original: Delicious flavor. My favorite of the three. Takes me back to my introduction to meat hot sauce at Don & Bob’s. More of a tomato-y base than Coach Tony’s and a slightly less-powerful kick.

Also available around town are Steve T’s, Zweigle’s, and Uncle Timmy’s versions. We’ll sample those three in our upcoming part two installment.

Click on the link below to view the various Rochester meat hot sauces available online from NY Style Deli:
https://www.nystyledeli.com/cgi-bin/deli/search.html?fi=products&st=db&se=toppings&op=rm&tf=dl_location&nu=0&ml=50

If you google “Rochester Meat Hot Sauce” you’ll also find many make-at-home recipes.

Postscript: Other local greasy spoon diners owned by Greek families in the area serve their version of meat hot sauce as a breakfast and lunch accoutrement. My perfect breakfast: two eggs, sunny-side-up, rye toast, home fries, and a small bowl of meat hot sauce on the side. I understand that the idea of meat hot sauce over eggs at 8:00 a.m. in the morning can be a little daunting for the uninitiated, but trust me on this one.

Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment and informational purposes only. I take no responsibility for any subsequent, health-related issues. 🥵

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Above: An original “Garbage Plate” served at Nick Tahou Hots is comprised of two hot dogs or burgers over home fries and macaroni salad, all smothered with a generous helping of Nick’s meat hot sauce and chopped onions. For calorie counters, that’s 1700 calories and a whopping 88 grams of fat.

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Above: Don & Bob’s at 2545 Monroe Avenue, circa 2001. Rochester’s one-time premier burger joint opened in 1954 and finally closed in 2001.

The Sal’s Birdland 30 lb. Challenge – One Year Later

Just a little over one year ago, I published a three-part series about my 16-week, 30 lb. weight-loss challenge. See the links to the series at the very bottom. Yup, I successfully lost the 30 lbs. (from 214 lbs. down to 184 lbs.), however, as most dieters know, keeping the weight off is another story.

Well, I was actually pretty good about maintaining my new weight via healthy eating habits and regular exercise UNTIL the COVID-19 pandemic struck in mid-March along with the lockdown that followed. That’s when I slowly started reintroducing my favorite junk foods back into my diet, like crackers (Cheez-It, Chicken in a Biskit), cheeses, and ice cream (rum raisin, pistachio). I became so lax that my go-to lunch became a mini-Garbage Plate; i.e., a Zweigles white hot dog and macaroni salad (including plenty of mayonnaise), all smothered in Rochester meat hot sauce and chopped onions. We’re talkin’ 50 grams of fat just for lunch, folks. Each day. Every day. I rationalized to myself that I was “entitled” to some “comfort foods” during that challenging period with everything that was going on. I’m sure many other people thought the same thing. The good thing is that I never stopped my daily weigh-ins, so I could observe my weight gradually increasing over time. I was 182 lbs. on March 19th at the start of the pandemic, but by June 4th I had crept up to 194 lbs. Argh! I had regained 10 of the 30 lbs. I had lost last year! When I hit 194 lbs. I knew it was time to seriously put on the brakes!

I subsequently eliminated most of the junk food from my diet and cut back on my meal portions and 31-days later, on July 5th, I was officially back down to 184 lbs. I’ll be rewarding myself with a delicious Sal’s Birdland chicken dinner one of these days.

What about you? Did you pack on some pounds during the pandemic lockdown, also? You can lose that weight and more. Check out my fail-safe, Sal’s Birdland Diet via the three links below:

  1. My weight-loss experience – Part 1: After wiping the egg off my face, trying again
  2. My weight-loss experience – Part 2: Walking for exercise: You CAN do it!
  3. My weight-loss experience – Part 3: Making dieting a fun adventure

Endnote: In the grand scheme of things, taking care of one’s physical health is important, BUT spiritual health is of eternal importance! Have you repented of your sin and accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone? No one lives forever in this world. Health will eventually fail and we will all die. But Jesus Christ gives eternal life to those who trust in Him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Odds and Ends

I’m a nerdy blogger and part of being a nerdy blogger is scheduling out my posts a couple of weeks ahead of time. I usually have 8-12 drafts in the queue that I’ll occasionally fiddle with and fine-tune before they’re finally published. I use a two-week, revolving “blog plan” sheet to keep it all straight and at the bottom of the sheet, I jot down ideas for new posts. I’ve accumulated a number of frivolous-type ideas that just keep getting pushed aside week after week, so I thought I’d finally publish them as a collection of “odds and ends” in a rare Sunday post:

Hot Sauce

Capture101Buffalo Chicken Wings are THE THING here in Western New York. Many, many years ago, I used to cook up my own wings in a mini-fryer and serve them with the standard Buffalo sauce – Frank’s Red Hot and melted butter – with Blue Cheese dressing on the side as a dip. I eventually created my own sauce concept, mixing Frank’s with Ranch dressing (heartier Ranch dressing actually tastes better than Blue Cheese in this combo) and eliminating the need for dip. I recently discovered something very similar to my old sauce at Tops supermarket; Creamy Ranch Buffalo Wing Sauce made by Moore’s Marinades and Sauces down in Birmingham, Alabama. Good stuff! But chicken wings are definitely not part of a healthy diet plan (just one fried chicken wing has about 100 calories and 7 grams of fat).

Trite sayings

Trite sayings come and go. At one time, EVERYONE was repeating the dismissive, “Whatever,” and the incredulous, “Really?” A decade ago, I sat near a woman at work who regularly used the annoyingly fatalistic phrase, “It is what it is.” She must have said that five or six times a day, every day!!!

New Yorkers – Hurry Up and Wait

We New Yorkers are notorious for being punctual to a fault. Twenty-years ago, our little family went on a 3-day cruise in the Caribbean. On the last day of the cruise, all passengers were told to report to the ship’s auditorium at 9 a.m. sharp for disembarkation instructions. We got there at about 8:45 along with a few other families. The ship’s officer in charge of the disembarkation was standing on stage and knowingly asked if we were all from New York. Here in New York, if a customer gets a little too friendly and chatty with the clerk at the grocery checkout, the rest of the people in line start going crazy. Or what about the older women at the checkout who always insist on meticulously picking out the exact change from their circa-1960, little change purse. It’s 2020! Get a debit card, ladies! Ach. We New Yorkers can be very impatient fools.

Walking in Winter

One of my fitness goals is to walk 10,000 steps every day, although I’m actually averaging only about 8K/day currently. It’s very difficult and dangerous walking in Rochester during the Winter with all of the snow and ice on the roads and the freezing temperatures. I’ve slipped and slid many times, but haven’t fallen. Yet. I need to seriously think about an alternative on bad days, like driving to the mall and doing my walking inside. My sister’s elderly mother-in-law was hit by a USPS truck and seriously injured while exercise-walking in the street during the Winter.

Sports teams

The last time I wrote about one of my sports teams was October 1st, when I was whining about the end of another terrible season by the San Diego Padres. What’s going on with my other favorite teams? After a very encouraging 12-4 record in 2018, the Los Angeles Chargers (football) sank like a rock in 2019, going 5-11. The Bolts have finally turned the page on 38-year-old QB, Philip Rivers. The New York Knicks (basketball) weren’t able to sign any marquee free agents in the offseason. After an abysmal start, Knicks management fired head coach, David Fizdale, and the team is currently limping along with a 17-38 record at the All-Star break, on its way to another atrocious finish. In contrast, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Tigers (hockey) have put together a very decent 17-11-4 season to this point and seem to be on their way to the conference playoffs in early-March as a top-seed. Meanwhile, the Padres are currently going through the motions in the Cactus League in preparation for what figures to be another sub-.500 season. The first spring training game is slated for this coming Saturday, February 22nd, against Seattle.

New Yorkers Redux

A U.S. Census report published in December showed that New York State is once again leading all other states in net population loss. The exodus is especially manifest here in Western New York. The region was once an economic powerhouse, and taxes spiraled through the roof to keep pace with the growth and development. Fifty-years later, the manufacturing jobs are pretty much gone, but the outrageously high taxes remain. Bureaucracy, once created, will fight tooth and claw to ensure its survival. Besides the economic miasma, we get more snow here than any other region in the country. No company would consider moving here. When students graduate from the local colleges, they must leave the region to find work.

The Battle of the Ages: Cheese Nips vs. Cheez-It

I have several post ideas backing up in the queue, so here’s a frivolous post for Sunday, a day that I normally use to take a blogging break.

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Back when I was a kid in the 1960s, there was an iconic battle going on in the snack aisle of the local grocery store with “Cheese Nips” and “Cheez-It” cheese crackers vying head-to-head for the consumer’s dollar. Cheese Nips (introduced in 1955) was produced by cookie and cracker powerhouse, Nabisco, while Cheez-It (introduced in 1921) was made by also-ran, Sunshine Biscuits. I can remember my parents buying both brands, probably determined by which one had provided a coupon in the Sunday paper that week.

Fifty-years later, you can’t even find Cheese Nips at Wegman’s, where we do our grocery shopping here in Rochester, but the shelves are FULL of various flavors of Cheez-It. Cheez-It definitely won the battle in the grocery aisle, hands down.

Recently, I was walking through Tops, the other grocery chain in town, and noticed they still stocked Cheese Nips, although they only had a few boxes compared to their large offering of the various flavors of Cheez-It. For old times sake, I bought a box of Cheese Nips along with a box of regular Cheez-It and brought them home for a comparison taste test.

Cheese Nips boasts on its box that it “has real cheddar cheese” and that “original Cheez-It doesn’t” while Cheez-It lamely boasts that its “made with 100% real cheese.”

Okay, time for the taste test comparison.

[Drumroll]

Hmm. Both of these crackers are pretty good, but I have to say that Cheez-It seemed to have a more robust flavor than Cheese Nips. It definitely seemed to have a cheesier taste. It also seemed to have a crunchier texture, as if it had been baked a tad longer than Cheese Nips. The winner in this contest is Cheez-It, although not by a huge margin. I imagine some would have difficulty distinguishing the difference.

Kudos to Sunshine (bought by Keebler in 1996 and by Kellogg in 2000) for winning the cheese cracker contest by turning Cheez-It into a snack dynamo. However, turnabout is fair play. Over the decades, Nabisco thoroughly trounced Sunshine’s original chocolate wafer and cream cookie, Hydrox (introduced in 1908), with its own version, the vaunted Oreo (introduced in 1912). Sunshine/Kellogg eventually gave up on Hydrox altogether. As a kid, I thought the name, “Hydrox,” was very off-putting/unappealing, sounding more like a science experiment than a snack cookie. A very strange brand-name choice by today’s standards, but I know that the marketers of that era were trying to link science to everything!

Where’s the beef? In Buffalo it’s at Schwabl’s!

About seven weeks ago, I published a post about our road trip to Buffalo to eat at a restaurant featured on Guy Fieri’s cable TV show, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”  That experience didn’t turn out anywhere near as well as expected (see here). As we disappointedly began our drive home to Rochester, we passed Schwabl’s on Center Road. Ah, Schwabl’s! THAT’S where we should have gone. We have eaten at Schwabl’s maybe ten times over the past fifteen years and its my wife’s FAVORITE restaurant, bar none.

After our disappointing experience, my wife was absolutely jonesing for some Schwabl’s, so a couple of Sundays ago she twisted my arm to make the 60-minute trek after church. It was a cold, rainy, and windy day in Western New York and a treacherous drive to Buffalo along the New York State Thruway, but we made it to Schwabl’s in one piece.

Schwabl’s doesn’t have an extensive menu. It’s known for its roast beef and when people visit Schwabl’s they generally go there for the “beef on weck;” sliced roast beef on a salted kümmelweck roll (photo below), a Buffalo favorite.

As we settled into our chairs and defrosted, my wife and I purveyed our menus. I usually order the beef on weck, but the salt and carbs didn’t appeal to me that day, so I ordered the roast beef plate; sliced roast beef (medium rare for me), and my sides were cole slaw and french fries topped with gravy. Not to be outdone, my wife (never a cheap date) ordered the fried shrimp and scallops plate AND ALSO a full plate of sliced roast beef!

The roast beef at Schwabl’s is indescribably good. It almost melts in your mouth. With my wife’s itch finally scratched, we contentedly drove back to Rochester. If you ever get to Buffalo, Schwabl’s is a MUST.

Home

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Above: Most of Schwabl’s customers order the beef on weck

Thank you, Lord, for enjoyable food and for all of your many blessings! Temporal blessings pale in comparison to salvation in Jesus Christ and spiritual blessings.

Underwhelmed in Buffalo at restaurant featured on Triple-D

A couple of Saturdays ago, I was doing my usual evening channel surfing and came across “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” on the Food Network cable channel. Triple-D is one of the few shows that I’ll actually stop and watch. Gregarious host, Guy Fieri, does a great job.

So, in this particular episode, Guy took a trip to nearby Buffalo, New York and the Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub at 2134 Seneca Street. He focused on the restaurant’s specialties: beef-on-weck (sliced roast beef dunked in au jus on a salted kimmelweck roll, a Buffalo favorite), crab cakes, and beer and cheddar soup. If you watch the show, you know that Guy showers profuse superlatives on every single gastronomical creation he reviews, as if each and every one were the absolute greatest thing he’s ever tasted. The hyperbole was flowing during his visit to Blackthorn’s as well.

Well, there was only one thing for me to do. I announced to my wife that we would be driving to Buffalo the following day. If you know my wife, you know she never passes up a trip to a restaurant. That Sunday, after church, we made the 60-minute drive to Blackthorn’s in Buffalo. I was worried the traffic on the Thruway would be heavy because of football, but the Bills were playing the Giants at New Jersey that particular day.

So, we arrived at the restaurant in the South Buffalo, Irish “working-class” neighborhood around 1 p.m. and were seated at our table. Bills fans were whooping it up upstairs and on the outside patio as they watched the Bills and Giants battle on big screen TVs, but it was relatively quiet where we sat. I scanned the large menu and settled on the “Triple D Platter” (see photo above), which, according to the menu featured “the items selected for the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives…a mini beef-on-weck, mini crab cake, small cup of Irish beer-cheddar soup and tater tots” for $16. The multiple “mini”s scared me, so I bumped up the soup order from a small cup to a bowl. My wife ordered a prime rib sandwich, one of the day’s specials, that came with french fries and gravy and she also ordered a bowl of the soup.

The waitress brought out the soup first. I make a decent beer-cheddar soup myself, so I was looking forward to sampling what Guy had raved over. Ach! I would give it only a “C.” It was way too thick and the large amount of potato cubes were an obstacle. My wife was disgusted and only ate a few spoonfuls.

Next came the mini beef-on-weck and mini crab cake. “Mini” was a very accurate adjective. I was underwhelmed by the small amount of food on the “platter.” Adding insult to injury, the roast beef was overcooked. The crab cake was tasty, but was gone in a few bites. The same with the two jalapeno-cheddar tater tots. I gave the items on the “platter” a “B,” but the portion size a “D.” My wife ate only half of her smallish prime rib sandwich, saying it was also overcooked. After I was done with my micro-platter, I finished off my wife’s bowl of soup because I was still hungry.

After paying the bill, we hopped into our car and started the long trek back to Rochester. As we ambled down Seneca Street, which eventually turns into Center Road, we spotted Schwabl’s Restaurant up ahead. Ah, the regret! Folks, don’t listen to Guy Fieri when it comes to roast beef in Buffalo. If you want an excellent and ample medium-rare beef-on-weck sandwich in Buffalo, you have to go to Schwabl’s.

Postscript 1: While doing my research for this post, I was surprised to learn that the particular episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” that featured the Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub in South Buffalo had originally aired way back on 02/01/2010.

Postscript 2: No, this post does not mean I’m considering a new occupation as a restaurant critic. 🙂 But this experience reminds me that the things of this world, even when they receive a great deal of hype, ultimately disappoint. Yes, we praise God for delicious food, but many people make food their religion.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17

Postscript 3: If you’re trying to lose weight, I definitely recommend that you avoid watching “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”

A revolting meal – un pasto rivoltante

People are funny when it comes to food. Some people are extremely fussy about what they will eat, while others will try anything. Growing up, my five older sisters and I were expected to eat EVERYTHING on our plates. Refusing to eat something was NOT an option. When my Mom served something particularly odious, like steamed cabbage, I had to wash it down with several glasses of milk. Kids today are catered to. I know of several children who dictate to their parents what they will and will not eat (and in one case, even WHAT TIME they will eat).

Thanks to my parents’ insistent training, I will eat most anything now, although I can do without brussel sprouts or eggplant. However, I once had a VERY challenging food experience that I’ll always remember.

It was back in 2004 when my wife and I visited our youngest son who was stationed at Aviano, Italy at the time. We hadn’t seen our son since he enlisted in the Air Force in 2001 and it was our first trip to Europe, so we were excited. While in Italy, we all took a couple of side trips via train to Venice and to Rome. Both cities were amazing to see.

While we were in Rome, we stopped at a nice restaurant for lunch. The menu was entirely in Italian so the three of us felt a little helpless. However, I did spot an entrée on the menu to the effect of “something-linguine-something-calamaro-something.” Hmm, I certainly liked fried calamari. OK, I’ll have me some of that linguine and squid, I confidently told the secretly-amused waiter. As I remember it, my wife and son spotted pizza on the menu and settled for that. Cowards! Twenty-minutes later, the server brought out our plates. What?!?!? Sitting in front of me was a plate full of linguine covered in some kind of DISGUSTING-looking black sauce. It turned out the dish was linguine and squid served in a sauce made with the squid’s own jet-black ink (see photo for example). Yuch! Well, I ordered it, so I ate it. It actually didn’t taste all that bad, but the sight of it and the idea of eating squid ink just revolted me. It was a meal that I will always remember.

What was the most alarming thing you ever ate?

Well, all things work together for good and eating the linguine in black squid ink sauce helped me better appreciate “normal” food. Thank you, Lord, for taking care of us and providing for us!

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:31-33

Postscript I: Writing this post reminded me of another challenging dish, which I learned about and tried when I was researching my Polish heritage. We’ll visit that one another time.

Postscript II: You can blame this post and the queasy feeling in your stomach on brother Slim Jim at The Domain for Truth who somehow motivated me into revisiting this black memory.

Catkins and clams! What a combo!

If you have a yard to take care of then you know it’s a significant amount of work. Up here in the Northeast Rust Belt, it takes A LOT of work to get the yard back into shape after the ravages of Winter.

This past Saturday, I worked ALL DAY out on the yard. After mowing the front yard, I picked up where I left off previously doing the edging around the bushes and flower garden. I then hooked up a gutter-cleaning wand gizmo I had recently ordered from Amazon to my heavy-duty, high-powered Husqvarna leaf blower. Many of you can remember me whining about all the fallen oak tree leaves that I must clean up every November. Well, in June the gutters become clogged up with the “catkins” that fall from the oaks. Catkins? Catkins (photo left) are those brown, stringy tassels that hang from oaks (technically they’re “spent” male flowers whose purpose is to shed pollen that is carried by the wind to female flowers, which ideally then develop into acorns). When the gutters fill up with catkins (photo middle), as well as my neighbor’s maple tree “helicopter seeds” (i.e., samaras), the gutter downspouts become clogged when it rains and the rainwater subsequently seeps over the gutters down into our basement. Not a pleasant situation, believe me. It’s happened many times in the past. I normally climb up on the roof and blow out the gutters with a handheld blower, but going up on the roof is an increasingly risky proposition for an old guy like myself. My bright idea was to blow the debris out of the gutters while standing on the ground using the leaf blower and wand gizmo rather than climbing up on the roof.

Well, I was able to successfully patch together the wand gizmo to the leaf blower (using some duct tape of course), but it only did a so-so job. The catkins gather together in clumps like mini-tumbleweeds inside the gutters and often become lodged against the gutter brackets. Oh, well. It’s better than nothing. I think I’ll still have to get up on the roof periodically after all.

So, here comes the good part, friends! After finishing all of my outdoor chores, I was whipped and REALLY looking forward to a relaxing evening. My wife had a hankering for some shrimp, so I drove to the Lobster Trap seafood store, which is less than two miles from our house. While I was there, I also picked up a dozen wild-caught, littleneck clams.  🙂  🙂  🙂

There’s few edibles in this world as good as a dozen steamed clams. What? You’ve never prepared them yourself? It’s easy. Add about 1-inch of water to a 3-quart saucepan. Scrub the clams with a dish towel and rinse and add them to the pan. Turn heat to High. When water begins to boil, reduce heat to Medium-Low and cover. The clams should all open up after 5 minutes. Remove the clams from the water (photo right) and serve with melted butter accented with several dashes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Delish! But wait! There’s still more to this delectable feast. Carefully strain the water and natural clam juices from the pan through a cloth or paper towel into a large ceramic cup. Add a small pat of butter and a dash of Red Hot and reheat in the microwave until the butter is melted. Voila! A delicious cup of clam broth!

That, my friends, was a great finish to a very busy day! Wally, I really wish you were up here to enjoy those clams and clams broth with me! Yes, we can thank the Lord for life’s simple pleasures!

Polish Pottery – Genuine and fakes

My enamorment with my Polish heritage during my long prodigal journey away from the Lord (see here) dovetailed with the trendy popularity of Polish pottery in the U.S. Back in the mid-aughts, you could find displays of Polish pottery in many department and discount stores throughout the country. We even had a shop near us devoted exclusively to Polish pottery called Market Square Polish Pottery located at Northfield Commons at 50 State Street in Pittsford, New York. The shop was opened in 2007 by an enterprising young couple, Danielle and Jim Bonsignore (Danielle was part-Polish), and I bought three pieces, which we still enjoy today (photo left).

During the Polish pottery craze, you could find less-expensive, imitation pieces in discount stores. But all of the Polish pottery actually manufactured in the Bolesławiec region of Poland are stamped with a seal of authenticity on the underside (photo right).

Fads and trends come and go and Polish pottery is no longer anywhere near as popular as it used to be. Market Square Polish Pottery struggled for a couple of years and finally closed its doors. Even the Polish Americans living in the Greater Rochester area wouldn’t support the shop. Polish Americans are generally known for having little interest in their cultural heritage, but that’s another post.

The proliferation of inexpensive knock-offs during height of the Polish pottery craze reminds me of the proliferation of churches that claim to be Christian. There’s churches out there that deny the truths of the Bible, churches that preach works salvation, and churches that preach prosperity in this temporal world. But a true church preaches repentance of sin and the Good News of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. That is the Lord’s authenticating mark. Don’t waste your time on the forgeries because they are spiritually toxic.

Bolesławiec Polish Pottery – Wikipedia article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boles%C5%82awiec_pottery

Poland’s National Dish: Bigos aka “Hunter’s Stew”

Back in August, I wrote about my very long prodigal journey which included studying my ethnic Polish heritage. See here. In that post, I promised that I would share a couple of Polish recipes that I had mastered. I passed along the first one, Kluski i Kapusta (Noodles and Cabbage), in October. See here.

Now it’s time for my second recipe and it’s a grand one; Bigos aka “Hunter’s Stew.” Bigos is a staple of Polish kitchens during the Winter months and is considered Poland’s national dish. Every Polish cook and babcia has their own variation and here’s mine, which started with a recipe from “The New Polish Cuisine” by Chef Michael J. Baruch. I’ve tasted the Bigos of many Polish chefs but it doesn’t get any better than the recipe below. Get out your cutting board. This one takes some prep time, but it’s well worth it.

Bigos

Ingredients:

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 lb. smoked kielbasa, sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 lb. stew beef (or substitute cubed pork)
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green cabbage, decored and sliced
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 lb. sliced mushrooms (Poles are very fussy about their mushrooms, but you can use common white mushrooms)
  • 16 oz. canned sauerkraut, drained (rinsing is optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash Tabasco sauce
  • 2 dashes Maggi liquid seasoning (if not available use Knorr Liquid Seasoning)
  • 5 cups (40 oz.) beef broth
  • 16 oz. canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red cooking wine
  • 6 oz. beer
  1. Using a very large pot (e.g., 16-quart Dutch Oven) on medium heat, cook 4 strips of bacon until crispy. Remove bacon leaving grease. Chop bacon and set aside. Add kielbasa to pot, cook and turn for a few minutes until slightly browned on both sides. With slotted spoon remove kielbasa and set aside. Remove all grease except 2 tbsp. and set aside. Coat stew beef with flour. Add stew beef to pot, cook and turn for a few minutes until slightly browned on both sides. Remove beef and set aside.
  2. Add 2 tbsp. of reserved bacon/kielbasa grease back to bottom of pot. Add garlic and onion. Stir and cook a few minutes until onion is slightly tender. Do not brown. Add cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and sauerkraut. Stir vegetables often for around 4 minutes until only slightly tender. Do not brown. Add salt, black pepper, marjoram, basil, bay leaf, paprika, cayenne pepper, caraway seeds, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and Maggi. Stir for 1 minute.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and reserved meats and stir until tomato paste is completely blended. Allow contents to come to a boil then cover and lower heat to low/warm. Simmer on low/warm with only a very slight boil for at least 6 hours. Many Polish cooks simmer their Bigos for a couple of days before serving.

Enjoy with sliced rye bread. Serves 8-10.

Smacznego! Ach! So good!