• Polish Mama Cooks

Loaded potatoes two ways - my take on Polish and American ultimate comfort food

Ziemniaki /ˈʑɛ̃mʲɲak/, kartofle /karˈtɔf.lɛ/, pyry /ˈpyry/ & grule /ɡɹuː(ə)l/. Have you ever traveled across Poland, learned one ingredient or a meal from one part of Poland, just to find out that it is spelled or even said in completely different way in another part? Potatoes are definitely that ingredient!



Ziemniaki, rzepa, pyry, grule i kartofle- those are all Polish names of the one simple and amazing vegetable that is often served as a side dish to almost any if not every main warm meal in my country.

You would think that maybe in English language potatoes are just potatoes. But are they? There are so many different types of them that it spins once head. Russets, reds, yellows, whites, purples, fingerlings and petites, there are over 200 varieties of potatoes, an option for every taste and every day.


No matter which potatoes you are a fan of, they are all fairly easy to prepare and pair with a variety of cuisines. As I mentioned, in Poland they usually come as a side dish to most of the meals like Kotlet schabowy, Golonka, Zeberka, Kotlety mielone they are also a big ingredient in more traditional meals - Pierogi Ruskie, Zurek, Placki Ziemniaczane.


So how do you prepare them... The answer is VERY easy... anyway you want. You can peel them, or not. Boil them, bake them, boil and then bake them later, slice them or mash; fry them, put them on the grill or in a campfire or even in a microwave! Really anyway you WANT!



Today, I would like to tell you about the loaded potatoes that I make. Being in love with my Polish roots and my new American life I decided to show you what came out from my kitchen by marrying those two parts of my life.


TIME

Ready in 75-90 min

Preparation: 20 min (potatoes), 10 min (Gzik*), bacon

Baking: 1h (400F)

serves 4 people (count on potato per person)



INGREDIENTS

For potatoes

  • 4 big potatoes (russets)

  • 3 tbsp of olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp of salt

  • 1/2 tsp of your favorite dry herbs (I use herb de Provence)


Loaded with Polish staffing - with the GZIK

  • 500g of farmers cheese

  • 1 cucumber (peeled, finely chopped )

  • 2 tbsp of yogurt

  • 1 tbsp of Bryndza*

  • salt, pepper

  • big bunch of chives (chopped)

  • 1 garlic clove (peeled and chopped)

  • the inside of the baked potato


Loaded with American staffing

  • 6 slices of bacon (5 chopped, 1 full- for garnish)

  • the inside from the baked potatoes

  • 1/2 tbsp of butter

  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

  • big bunch of chives (chopped)

  • 1 tbsp of BRYNDZA (I use instead of sour cream)



STEP BY STEP

  1. Wash and scrub the potatoes, to save the water put a big bowl in the sink, fill it up with water and use it to scrub, just rinse them at the end (You can use it that to water your flowers).

  2. Set the oven to 400F. Take the potatoes and pat them dry (do not skip this part).

  3. Prepare the dressing. In a small bowl mix together olive oil, garlic powder, salt, herbs. Brush on the dressing on each of the potatoes and cover each one with aluminum foil. Put them in the oven for an hour.

  4. While the potatoes are baking, prepare the gzik. First peel and chop the cucumber then put the farmers cheese in a medium bowl and crumble it with a fork. Add yogurt, Bryndza, salt, the chopped cucumber, chives, pepper, garlic clove. Set a side in the fridge.

  5. Fry the bacon, let it soak the extra fat into a paper towel.

  6. After an hour take out one potato from the oven and with a fork check if they are soft. If they are, take them all out. Unwrap and cut them lengthwise. Carefully scoop out flesh from the center of each potato into a two medium bowl (it will look like mash potato, and it will be hot so be careful).

  7. For the Polish staffing- add gzik to the first bowl with the potato mash, and mix everything, the ration should be 2:1.

  8. For the American staffing - add butter to the second bowl of mash and mix it, then add cheddar cheese, Bryndza, chives, and chopped bacon. Season with salt and pepper.

  9. Spoon filling back into each potato. Sprinkle the "American potatoes" with some more cheese and return to the oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Top with chives greens and remaining bacon. The "Polish potatoes" just garnish with chives and the fried slice of bacon.

  10. SMACZNEGO!



TIPS


1. If you will skip drying the potatoes the skin will be soggy and will not get crispy.

2. When you do not have time, you can first boil the potatoes, skin on, until half soft and than put them in the oven to bake (they will be ready faster), but you have to put them in the oven for 10-15 without foil so they get crispy on the outside.

3. If there is too much Gzik - and I usually make to much, I eat it on a piece of bread for breakfast the next morning.


If you want to know other Polish recipe you should see my recipe for Potato pancakes:

Placki ziemniaczane


* Gzik- is a characteristic dish of Wielkopolska and Kujawska region, however you can also eat it in South of Poland. It is a farmers cheese, with mix of chives or green onions and other ingredients.

Here is my take on Gzik with radish

*Bryndza- is a cheese made from sheeps milk, creamy and white in appearance, is well know for its characteristic strong smell and taste. The cheese is tangy, crumbly and slightly moist. The overall flavor sensation begins slightly mild, then goes strong and finally fades to a salty finish. Bryndza Podhalańska is a Polish variety of the this soft cheese, made in one of the most beautiful part of Poland - Podhale region.


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