There are tons of stories about pasta and where it originates from. Maybe it was introduced to the Italians from the Arab world, of maybe by the Greeks. Or perhaps it was invented by the Sicilians. Either way, the idea of boiling dough exists around the world. The Asians eat noodles and dimpling of various kinds, the Russians and other slavic countries have their dumplings, and Italy – of course – has their pasta of vast varieties. There is however a Polish dish called łazanki that is basically pasta with sour cabbage and pork. I’ve made my own take on it, with the greatest modification being not to combine the pork with the sauce but rather make it crispy and put it on top. Also, I’ve added kale to the cabbage mix. This is freaking amazing!
What you need for the polish pasta
- 150 g of wheat flour (not durum wheat, we’re not making Italian pasta here!)
- 1 egg
- 50 g of water (maybe more, you’ll see if the dough comes together or not)
- A pinch of salt
This is how you make the łazanki pasta
It’s made pretty made the same way as any pasta dough, but unlike the Italians you won’t be using durum wheat hence the lazanki will be a little different in texture.
- Mix flour, eggs and water in a stand mixer or in a bowl.
- Add a little more water if the dough seems too dry and doesn’t come together. It should be a soft dough.
- If you mixed in a stand mixer, just keep mixing for about 4 minutes. If in a bowl, put it on a floured table and kneed it with your hands until you have a nice lump of dough.
- Cut the dough in two, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough to a thin sheet, and cut it into about 4×4 cm squares.
- Sprinkle plenty of flour on the squares, and shake them so that flour covers all of them.
- Let them dry for at least 4 hours. Over night is good too.
- Boil in salted water. Depending on how dry the łazanki pasta is, it can take everything from 2 minutes to 8 minutes. Try them every minute, so you know when they’re done.
The crispy pork
- A slab of pork belly with skin intact, about 200 grams
- 50 ml of apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar, really)
- 1 tsp of salt
Bake the pork…
- Make cuts in the meat side of the pork, all the way down to the fat/skin, but don’t cut the skin!
- If the pork has been brined, don’t add salt. If it hasn’t, then season the meat with salt and make sure to rub it into the cuts as well.
- Wipe the skin of the pork so it’s all dry.
- Put the pork belly skin side down in a pan and put it into the oven on 175 degrees celsius.
- Wait 20 minutes (and move on to the next chapter in the recipe while you wait)
- Take out the pork belly and turn it over with the skin side facing up. Poke holes in the skin using a fork, the skin is quite soft now so it won’t be much of an effort.
- Wipe the skin as dry as you can. A well wiped skin means crispy skin.
- Mix vinegar and salt, and brush the skin with the mixture.
- Back into the oven for another 20 minutes.
- Take the pork out, wipe the skin dry again, and apply the vinegar mixture.
- Back into the oven for 20 minutes.
- It should now be crispy and wonderful. If there are still spots that aren’t all crackling crispy, you can whip it off again and put it into the oven for another couple of minutes.
- When the crispy pork is done, take it out and let it rest for 10-20 minutes. If you turn off the oven and leave it to rest in there, the skin will get all saggy. Don’t do that. Take it out!
For the sauce you need…
- 200 g of mushrooms (I use three different ones for variation, chanterelle, oyster mushrooms and wild button mushrooms)
- 200 g of sour cabbage (if you find sour cabbage too sour, you can wash it under cold water to take away some of the acidity)
- 100 g of kale
- 3 allspice corns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried cumin
- a couple of splashes of a neutral oil (e.g rapeseed oil or peanut oil, not olive oil)
- 2 large tablespoons of butter (not margarine, we want it to taste good!)
- The molten fat from the pork belly
- 1 small onion or half a huge one
This is how you make the łazanki dish
- Cut the kale in about 4 cm pieces and put it in a saucepan together with the sour cabbage, the spices and a couple of dashes of oil. Cook under a lid. You might need to add a little extra water if you notice it getting dry, you don’t want to burn it.
- Don’t let the mushrooms boil in their own moist, put them in a dry pan on low to medium heat and let the moisture evaporate. Then add the butter and slowly let them get some color.
- Cut the onion in thin slices and fry them with the mushrooms until soft and aromatic.
- After about 20 minutes (the third time you take out the meat to wipe and brush it) you’re ready to assemble the whole thing.
- Remove the allspice from the cabbage, and mix the cabbage with the mushrooms in the pan.
- Add the boiled pasta.
- Take the fat from the meat and pour it through a sieve into the pan.
- Mix it all around, and taste it. If it needs some more salt, add it now, but keep in mind that the meat is salty too!
- Melt some honey in the microwave for a couple of seconds.
- Cut the meat by placing a knife into the pre-made cuts, and smash the top of the knife. You’ll get a perfect cut through the crispy skin.
- Paint the pork belly pieces with the melted honey, but don’t paint the skin.
- Put some of the łazanki pasta mix on a plate and the pork belly on top, and you’re ready to eat!