Chef Jamie Stachowski's version of this Polish stew (pronounced BEE-goss) is more of a choucroute garnie, with separate elements of braised cabbage and meat.
You could bake the pears between layers of kosher salt, but the pears the chef brought for the Chef on Call session were so huge that he improvised on the spot, creating an egg white-salt meringue that he slathered the fruits with. They baked upright in the roasting pan. Bosc pears are best to use for this because their peels are thick.
Servings: 10 generous servings
- For the pears
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup kosher salt
- 3 large egg whites
- 5 large Bosc pears
- For the cabbage and kielbasa
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 5 pounds kielbasa, preferably in 1 large coil
- 1 large white onion, cut into small dice
- 10 to 12 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large heads red cabbage, cored and cut into 1/2-inch-wide ribbons
- 1 cup Madeira
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1 small bunch mixed herbs, such as thyme, sage and rosemary
- 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- 2 cups low-sodium beef broth or water
- 1 cup pitted prunes, cut into quarters (may substitute dried figs)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
For the pears: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour 5 small, separate piles of kosher salt in the bottom of a large roasting pan.
Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer for several minutes until stiff peaks form, gradually adding the salt. Use your hands or a brush to paint each pear, leaving only the stem exposed, to form a salt crust. Place the coated pears on the piles of kosher salt and bake for at least 45 minutes and up to 3 hours (a forgiving and inexact method); the pears are ready when their flesh can be pierced easily with a skewer.
Meanwhile, make the cabbage and kielbasa: Heat the butter and vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add the fresh kielbasa and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on one side, then turn over and sear for 2 to 3 minutes. The sausage should be browned and slightly colored all over. Transfer to a large platter.
Add the onions and garlic to the pot over the same heat; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until they have softened. Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved, then add the cabbage and toss with tongs for 3 to 5 minutes, until it is well coated. Carefully add the Madeira and vinegar (to avoid a rush of steam); cook for 5 minutes, stirring to combine. Add the herb bunch, bay leaves, beef broth or water, prunes, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper, mixing well, then the seared kielbasa, pushing it down into the liquid. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the the cabbage becomes tender but is still firm.
To assemble: Have a large platter ready.
Remove the baked pears from their salt crusts, discarding the crusts. Brush away any salt from the outsides of the pears, then cut them in half lengthwise and use a melon baller to scoop out the cores and any stringy pieces. Remove the coil of braised kielbasa from the pot and cut into the desired-size slices. Mound the cabbage mixture and its juices in the center of the platter, then arrange the kielbasa and pear halves around it and on top. Serve hot or warm.
From chef Jamie Stachowski.
Tested by Jamie Stachowski.
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