Polish comfort food in honor of the man who taught us to vision
By Ari Weinzweig
When I think about vision, as I wrote in “The Story of Visioning,” I think about Stas’ (pronounced “Stosh”) Kazmierski. Which is (along with the fact they’re terrific) why I’m thinking and writing about the delicious Polish pierogi from Hamtramck that we offer at the Roadhouse!
The story of the pierogi.
Polish settlers started arriving in the North American colonies in the late 16th century. Two of the early immigrants—Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kościuszko—led Revolutionary War armies. Michigan has the third largest Polish population in the U.S. (after Illinois and New York), so it’s only fitting that we fit this terrific platter onto the specials list. “Pierogi” in Polish refers to just what it is—a stuffed dumpling. (It’s linguistically connected to the Russian “pirozhki.”) Pierogi is plural—one would be a pierog. The linguistic root in old Slavic is “piru,” which means “feast,” and that’s exactly how I think of this platter. The pierogi we serve at the Roadhouse are handcrafted by a third-generation family business in Hamtramck, the center of Polish life in Michigan. While they make a series of different fillings, we chose a classic—the potato. It’s got a lovely texture and a terrific flavor. We lightly pan-cook the pierogi in butter so the dough on the outside gets golden brown, which makes it a perfect foil for the soft, creamy potato filling.
How we enjoy our pierogi.
We serve the potato pierogi up with a pile of naturally cured local sauerkraut, a good bit of slow-cooked caramelized onions, and plenty of sour cream. It’s a terrific lunch or dinner. Additionally, it’s a great meatless meal—ideal for vegetarians. Of course, it also happens to be delicious if we cook them for you in bacon fat and then top them with a bit of chopped Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon. If you want to skip the sauerkraut and onions, they’re great with jam too. And I’ll add that many groups have been ordering a plate of pierogi to share as an appetizer.
The platter is named, poignantly, for Stas’, whose family was Polish. Stas’ passed away in the spring of 2017 at the too-young age of 71. Without Stas’, our organization wouldn’t be remotely what it is. And it makes me smile through the sadness of Stas’ loss to know that we can put something on the menu that honors him and his positive memory every time someone orders it! I have a vision of this plate making regular appearances on the Roadhouse menu, both because it tastes so terrific, and because it will serve as a culinary tribute to Stas’ Polish roots.