Braised seitan in Barbera d’Asti with polenta and Krakow impressions

My Krakowian days are unfortunately over and now I’m back in Berlin. I couldn’t post from Poland because I stayed four months in a hotel without kitchen and laptop. After that I spent a couple of weeks visiting my family and friends in Italy and the recipe of this post is my vegan version of a Piedmontese traditional winter dish. I’ve just veganized my mother’s recipe and that’s all, but first I’m going to write down some impressions of my experience in Poland. I have to admitt that I’ve left a piece of my heart in Krakow and below you can find the places I liked more. Now that I’ve got my kitchen back I’m ready to prepare the Polish recipes I’ve lernt. So stay tuned!

Massolit Books & Café – ul. Felicjanek 4 This is a kitchen blog, but the first place I recommend to everyone decides to visit Krakow isn’t a restaurant. Massolit is an amazing indipendent English bookstore I used to go in on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s really close to the Rynek Main Market Square and the Philarmonia and you can reach it easily by foot from the city center. There is a wide range of interesting titles, used and new books, and while you’re reading one you can drink an espresso properly made. There are vegan options too, like soy milk, organic juices, bagels and soups. If you go during the weekend in the morning you can have a seat in one of the old-style furnished room, read a good book and listen to Billie Holiday. The warmer and cosyer place I found in Krakow.

Ro Raw Organic – Plac Wolnica 12 This raw organic restaurant is simply one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. RO Raw Organic is in Kazimierz and on their website you can have a look to their menu. The place is comfortable, the food fresh and excellent and the service efficient. There is also a little grocery inside where you can find a selection of organic products. I had a barszcz with sprouts, a delicious burger and a mango cake. I’m not a big fan of cakes and sweets in general, but that cake was really incredible! Besides RO Raw Organic offers catering service and workshops.

Zapiecek Polskie Pierogarniaul. Sławkowska 32 Traditional Polish food is full of meat, but it is not hard to find vegan or vegetarian options. If you have been in Poland you should know pierogi. They are dumplings served boiled or fried. I prefer the boiled version not because of healthy reasons, but because of the taste. I find that the fried one cover the filling too much. The place where I ate the best pierogi is Zapiecek Polskie Pierogarnie. It’s very close to the Rynek Main Market Square and opens 24h. All the pierogi are homemade, included the dough. I do suggest the one with broccoli, but you can ask for a mixed dish and then decide which is your favourite!

Pierożki u Vincentaul. Jozefa 11 This restaurant is the most famous place where you can eat pierogi. The selection is really huge and dishes are good tasting. I don’t know why, but I prefer Zapiecek Polskie Pierogarnia. Maybe because I went to Vincent with a terrible hangover after a vodka night and now my memories are a little bit mixed up.

Green Wayul. Mikołajska 14 This vegan and vegetarian fast food is really close to the Rynek Main Market Square. Huge portions for reasonable price, it is perfect for the lunchtime. The food is not bad, but the music selection is terrible. I suggest to go there with an mp3 player and to take the lentil soup. It’s Delicious!

Spółdzielnia organic resto & take-awayul. Meiselsa 11 Organic vegan and vegetarian fast food in Kazimierz. The food is quite good for affordable price. The place is comfortable and they also organize catering service and cultural projects. I suggest you to have a look to their website.

Momoul. Dietla 49 Before going to Momo I read a lot of enthusiastic reviews and I had very high expectations. Maybe it was a bad day for me, but I was not satisfied at all. Momo is a vegan indian post-hippie restaurant  where the food I ate were quite bland, but you can find for sure the yoga class you are looking for. I went there just once, but I didn’t want to give it a second chance.

My guide of Krakow is finished and I’d like to spend a couple of words more about the recipe of this post, the braised seitan in Barbera d’Asti with polenta. It’s one of the most popular winter dishes from Piedmont and it reminds me on my childhood. It takes a lot of time, but in winter I really appreciate slow cooking, especially during a silent Sunday.

braised seitan in barbera d'asti red wine with polenta

Ingredients (serves two)
350 gr homemade seitan
1 carrot minced
1 red onion minced
1 stalk of celery minced
1 garlic clove minced
3 sage leaves minced
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs of parsley minced
2 sprigs of marjoram minced
5 juniper berries
3 cloves
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

For the homemade seitan
120 gr instant gluten flour (vital wheat gluten)
125 cl water
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce black pepper

For the marinate
500 ml red wine (I used Barbera d’Asti)
1 carrot
1 red onion
1 stalk of celery
1 garlic clove smashed
5 sage leaves
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs of parsley
2 sprigs of marjoram
5 juniper berries
3 cloves

For the polenta
125 gr yellow cornmeal
water (the amount depends on the type of the cornmeal. Mine required 250 ml water)
pinch of salt
extra-virgin oive oil

The day before prepare the seitan and marinate it.

In a bowl stir together instant gluten flour, garlic powder, tomato paste, and black pepper. Pour extra-virgin olive oil, soy sauce, water and mix until you get a consistent dough. Knead it carefully with your hands, roll up firmly in a piece of aluminum foil and steam for 35-40 minutes.

Allow to cool completely into the aluminum foil wrap, then cut into 1,5 cm cubes.

For the marinate chop into medium pieces carrot, red onion, stalk of celery. Add seitan, garlic glove smashed, sage leaves, bay leaves, sprigs of parsley, sprigs of marjoram, juniper berries, cloves and cover wit red wine. Refrigerate for 24 hours in order to get a more flavorful seitan and wine.

The day after take away the seitan cubes from the marinate, filter red wine and set aside. I prefer not to cook the seitan with the vegetables of the marinate in order to get a more delicate taste. I usually make sauces with that vegetables to serve with raw food. For this reason I suggest to use fresh ones for the next step.

Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add carrot, red onion, stalk of celery, garlic glove, sage, parsley and marjoram minced and sauté until soft and tender. Add seitan cubes and stir gently for 10 minutes until browned. Pour filtred red wine, add tomato paste, a pinch of salt, bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and slowly simmer for 90 minutes.

While the seitan is cooking prepare the polenta. In a saucepan bring water to the boil and add salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until ready. Pour the polenta into a baking pan and let it cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 200°.

Turn out the polenta on a cutting board and cut into cilinders. Brush each side with extra-virgin olive oil and arrange each piece into the backing pan again. Transfer to the oven and.cook for 10 minutes, then switch on the grill and let inside until golden brown on top.

Serve the polenta cilinders on a plate with the braised seitan.



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