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Feb 11, 2014 09:54 AM

School me on Polish grocery stores

I'm fortunate to live in a very Polish-heavy neighborhood with a lot of delis, butcher shops and bakeries, but every time I go shopping I always come back with the same things: kielbasa weselna, Kamis mustard, light rye bread and maybe some pickles from the big barrel. Help me break out of my rut and explore this new cuisine. What else should I be checking out and bringing home from the Polish store?

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  1. Here are some ideas: sauerkraut (also from the big barrels), pierogi (lots of different fillings), kaszanka (blood sausage), kasza (without the blood), flaczki (tripe), chocolate-covered prunes, krówki (chunks of caramel fudge), soup mixes (powdered and condensed), dried mushrooms, makowiec (poppy seed cake), sernik (cheesecake), lots of alcohol (żubrówka, miód pitny, fruit brandies, Polish beer, …)

    Also, it's almost pączki time (jelly doughnuts).

    2 Replies
    1. re: DeppityDawg

      Thanks for the suggestions. What Polish dishes can I cook with blood sausage and tripe?

      1. re: RealMenJulienne

        The classic tripe dish is a pretty thick soup. See, e.g,

        I like blood blood sausages (kiszka) grilled, indirectly, with a charcoal fire.

        You may find the totality of this Site helpful:

    2. Oh, so many goodies: pork loin (polędwica), herring, duck pate (pasztet), and many types of ham. Also, you may like to expand your kielbasa repertoire. Try the fresh, unsmoked white kielbasa, and the snack sized kabanosy. If they have prepared foods, try the pickle soup or white barszcz. Grated beets with horseradish (Ćwikła), and if you are adventurous, jellied pigs knuckles (galareta).

      1. Definitely some cabbage rolls.. Some haluski...

        If you're really lucky they'll have garachki.....

        I always ask if they have garachki.

        3 Replies
          1. re: DeppityDawg

            Ahhhh.... that's one of my favorites.

          2. If they have real Polish ham, try it — I can't get it now, only sweeter cured ham. It's meaty and somewhat salty, but with farmer's cheese pierogi? Delish.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lsmutko

              "...farmer's cheese pierogi..."

              NOW we're talkin!
              Pierogi filled with povidel (sp?) are also a treat (povidel is what the Hungarians call 'lekvar'. In English, it's often called plum or prune butter).

            2. I go to a big Polish-heavy supermarket in Chicago (Shop & Save, South Archer & Linder, just beyond Midway Airport). The first thing I head for is fresh pork (which they get from Canada) because different (for Polish market) cuts are available than in "mainstream" US markets. One is "pork cutlets"---boneless pork chops put through the cubing machine to tenderize them---they melt in your mouth. Another is "pork stew" which is lean pork loin cut into big cubes, versatile for so many things---I cook it in the crock pot with barbecue sauce for amazing hot sandwiches, or use it to make Chinese style sweet and sour pork. I love the dark breads, baked on site. There is HUGE variety of cheese and sausage---the farmer cheese is good for making cheesecake. The imported-from-Poland jams include sour cherry and rose hip, and the honey is good. The dill pickles are great as are the many varieties of sauerkraut. Don't miss buraczi (not sure of spelling) which is grated or ground cooked beets that you get already mixed with horseradish or add your own horseradish to it---a very good cold relish with meat. There are more varieties of tea and herbal tea than I have ever seen. My neighbor who went with me once was in ecstasy over the variety of tinned fish but it's not my thing so I can't give details. And of course big huge jelly doughnuts called paczi (again not sure of spelling, sorry). I have to say that although Chicago is food-shopping paradise, this big Polish market is my favorite market in the city---it's like a trip abroad.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Querencia

                Hi Querencia, I usually go to Endy's, Kurowski's or Gene's Sausage Shop in Avondale. Thanks for the South Side rec.

                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                  RealMen---If you do the South Archer Avenue route, just west of the Shop & Save I described there are not one but THREE superb bakeries of Slavic ancestry. I will just name them---they all have websites with addresses and (sob) pictures. 1) Weber's (I think this is the best). 2) Pticek's (call a day ahead an order the caramel pecan coffee cake---it's got about an inch of whole pecans on top). 3) Racine Bakery (which is also an excellent ethnic deli). Also, if you're in the neighborhood, don't ignore Bobak's, where they make the sausage. Obviously you can drive but if you're doing CTA, take the Orange Line to Midway then the 62Harlem bus about another 5 minutes, close but not a nice walk, too much airport-related stuff. Tell me please, is there still a good Polish bakery in Avondale? I think some of them have closed.

                  1. re: Querencia

                    Thanks again for the recs. I don't know of a great dedicated Polish bakery. In the OP I was thinking of "stores which have good bread" as bakeries. Haven't found a real Polish bakery in Avondale yet.