If you spend much time at all in Polish cities, you’ll see folks walking around eating long skinny Zapiekanka Polish French Bread Pizza. They always look and smell terrific. Almost two years after my first visit to Poznan, curiosity got the better of me. As I was leaving Sweet Surrender one afternoon, rather than hop on my tram at Most Teatralny, I walked over to another corner of this busy intersection to order my first Zapiekanka.
Zapiekanka dates back to the 1970s, and the small amount of free enterprise allowed by the Communist government, mała gastronomia, travel trailers or food trucks serving simple street food. Zapiekanka’s base is a baguette, cut in half lengthwise. Traditionally, it’s topped with mushrooms, melted cheese and on the very top, a squirt of ketchup.
With food scarisity a thing of the past, Zapiekanka now comes with mind boggling topping choices. I think my first was kebab meat. The ones we made at home recently, had a slice of ham, sauteed mushrooms, cheese, and were topped with ketchup and everyone’s favorite garlic sauce, sos czosnkowy.
I made my own garlic sauce by mixing 1/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup sour cream, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Ed pronounced it very Polish tasting and the perfect finishing touch. My prescribed recipe below is very basic, add to it as you choose just be sure to keep the melted cheese and sauces on top. For protein, you might try BBQed meat, cooked bacon, or salami. As you sautee the sliced mushrooms, maybe you’d like to toss in some sliced onion or bell pepper.
As for the cheese, make it something that will melt well, cheddar, mozrella, even Oscypek if you’re lucky enough to have some. To be authentic, add a squirt of ketchup on top of your Zapiekanka as it comes out of the oven, and any other sauce you like, garlic sauce, ranch, or 1000 island dressing. The amounts listed below are really just guidelines, like sandwich, soup, or pizza making, the rules aren’t so strict.
I look forward to hearing what toppings you’ve put together. We thought our homemade Zapiekanka were delicious!
PS – this explains why Poles are likely to put ketchup on pizza, even though it already has a red sauce!
- 1 loaf French bread
- Ham, sliced thin (enough to cover the bread)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 16 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cups cheese, grated
- Garlic sauce (1/4 cup mayo, ¼ cup sour cream, ½ teaspoon stirred together)
- Preheat oven to 300 F
- Slice the bread lengthwise and also crosswise, making 4 zapiekanka crusts
- Add a thin layer of ham or other protein on top of the bread
- Add mushrooms and butter to a pan and cook over medium high heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently
- Top Zapiekanka with mushrooms and sprinkle with cheese
- Bake about 10 minutes, until cheese melts and bread is just beginning to brown around the edges
- Top with a drizze ketchup and garlic sauce