Polish Easter Dinner Dishes

Easter dinner
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After the strict fasting of Lent, Poles are more than ready for a feast. In Poland, the storks are once again on the rooftops and the flowers have started to bloom. On Good Friday night, hard-cooked eggs are colored and decorated with traditional designs. On Easter Saturday, święconka baskets filled with salt, hard-cooked eggs, butter, sausage, ham, bread, babka and other foods are taken to a church to be blessed by the priest. On Easter morning, the feasting begins with a breakfast taste of...MORE everything in the basket.

  • 01 of 08
    polish stuffed eggs
    Barbara Rolek

    After breakfast, the table is set with the best linens, finest china and silver, and decorated with pussy willow branches and garlands of leaves.

    The Easter lamb cake takes center stage, then the appetizer buffet is laid out. Appetizers are mostly of the zakąski or przystawski type—substantial small plates of cold dishes requiring a knife and fork—rather than the przekąski type, which are more like canapes. In the former category, anything goes, including stuffed hard-cooked eggs, sausages, smoked fish, caviar, aspics, creamed vegetables and more.

    When all is ready, guests are welcomed by the head of the house with a wedge of hard-cooked egg (jaja na twardo) and wishes for health and happiness.

  • 02 of 08
    White Polish borscht
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    White borscht soup is either eaten on Easter Sunday morning or served for dinner after the appetizers.

    It is made with most of the foods from the święconka basket and with the flavorful kiełbasa cooking water. There are as many recipes for this soup as there are cooks.

    Some make it with a kwas when it becomes żurek wielkanocny, and others use sour cream or buttermilk for the requisite sour taste. Some use smoked sausage and others use fresh white sausage or ham or bacon.

  • 03 of 08
    Honey baked ham
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    Baked ham, roast suckling pig, roast leg of lamb, roast beef, roast turkey, roast goose, duck or chicken and fresh white Polish sausage (biała kiełbasa) all make an appearance on the buffet table. The variety is staggering and there's something for every meat lover.

    Leftovers go into bigos, smigus-dyngus casserole, sandwiches and ham and fruit salad on Easter Monday.

  • 04 of 08
    Braised Red Cabbage
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    This flavorful meat combination is fleshed out with an assortment of vegetables, like sweet-and-sour braised red cabbage. It comes together in a snap, especially if you use a food processor to shred the cabbage and onion. Czerwona kapusta zasmazana goes great with just about any dish but is a favorite with ham, pork and sausage.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    Boiled potatoes with dill
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    Some type of potato—be it boiled potatoes with caramelized onions and chopped dill or mashed potatoes or potato salad—is a given for Easter dinner.

    In addition to going well with pork, chicken, beef, ham and fish as a side dish, boiled potatoes prepared this way are often eaten as a meatless main course, especially during Lent, and washed down with a cold glass of buttermilk.

  • 06 of 08
    grated horseradish
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    Grating fresh horseradish root was a tradition for Easter to make chrzan. For color and a touch of sweetness, grated beets are added when this condiment becomes known as ćwikła. Today, food processors have made this task much easier.

  • 07 of 08
    Polish easter bread
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    Polish chałka is a slightly sweet, eggy braided raisin bread. Chałka is served for breakfast or with a meal. It's especially great for ham sandwiches—the sweet and salty combination is unbeatable. But some type of rye bread, like Polish sourdough rye or another type of rye the family likes, is also served.

  • 08 of 08
    Bigos, beef with white cabbage
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    As one might expect, there are plenty of meat leftovers from the Easter buffet and they all end up in one dish or another on Śmigus-Dyngus Day, also known as Wet Monday or Easter Monday. Bigos, smoked sausage with kraut and ham with fruit salad are just a few.