Monday, November 25, 2013

Patyczki (Polish Breaded Meat Kebabs)

If you were to ask anyone in Poland, they'd tell you that patyczki are wooden sticks onto which meat might be threaded, but in the Polish community here, it's the name of a popular dish of breaded meat on a stick that makes an appearance at celebrations.
Originally considered a peasant food, they're often made with inexpensive cuts of pork like pork butt/shoulder, but I prefer to use a leaner cut and trim it of all visible fat - or at least any I can get to while I'm cubing it; marinating and slow roasting the meat ensures that it's tender.

Patyczki
makes 20-24 kebabs

initial prep time: 20 minutes
marinating time: 8-24 hours
breading & browning time: 30-45 minutes
baking time: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients:
2kg/4-4.5 lbs boneless pork rib roast, trimmed and cut into 2.5cm/1" cubes
4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 large yellow onion (200-225g), halved and sliced
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
60ml/1/4 cup milk

20-24 - 15cm/6" wooden/bamboo skewers

Breading:
110g/1 cup unflavoured dry breadcrumbs
65g/1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

vegetable oil for frying

Method:
cubed pork
cubed pork
garlic onions
garlic and onions (for a double batch)
In a large bowl, combine the cubed meat, salt, pepper, paprika, onion and garlic. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the milk and pour the mixture over the meat. Mix well, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8-24 hours. This step is important for both flavouring and tenderizing the meat; because there are eggs and milk in the marinade, for food safety reasons, I don't marinate the meat for longer than 24 hours.
pork kebabs
skewered pork
breaded kebab
breaded patyczki
browned kebab
fried until golden brown
Thread 3 pieces of meat onto each skewer, removing the pieces of onion and garlic clinging to them. Combine the breading ingredients in a dish large enough to hold a skewer of meat comfortably. Roll each kebab in the dry mixture and press lightly to make sure the coating adheres. 

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat 1cm/1/4" vegetable oil over medium heat. Add some patyczki (don't overcrowd the pan) and cook them on all sides until golden brown and crisp, about 4-5 minutes per batch. Transfer them to a rack covered with paper towels to drain. Repeat until they're all browned, adding more oil to the pan if necessary. At this point, they can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a day before roasting.
To bake, preheat the oven to 150C/300F.

To keep the coating crisp and to make sure the meat cooks evenly, the patyczki need to be baked standing upright. A 2.5L casserole dish with high sides works perfectly for a single batch. The trick to keeping them in position is to put some loosely crumpled foil in the bottom of the dish and insert the skewers pointy side down. Bake on a rack placed in the lower third of the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is barely pink and the internal temperature is 58C/135F (the meat will continue to cook outside of the oven). Check periodically after 45 minutes of baking and cover the patyczki loosely with foil if they seem to be getting too brown.
Serve and enjoy! They go very well with kapusta, a favourite Polish side dish of roasted cabbage.

It's worth it to make a big batch and freeze the extra. Wrap them well -  I use plastic wrap then 2 layers of foil; they'll keep for 6 months in the freezer. I usually make a double batch before Christmas and freeze half until Easter. And yes, I only make them once a year ; )!

To reheat, put the defrosted patyczki in a pan or on a cookie sheet large enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 160C/325F for about 30 minutes or until they're heated through, turning them once after 15 minutes.

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