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The Cross and the Cleaver: “My Mum Is Cooking Duszonki”


Winter is the time for a one-pot, delicious, aromatic and hearty dishes, filling homes with warmth and sense of welcome. Most of my dishes have a memory, or a story, I want to share with you, along with the recipe. This is one of them. 

It was 1986. Metallica released the amazing “Master of Puppets.” I went over to one of my best friends with whom I listened to countless Heavy Metal albums. We were going to give a solid listen to that one. The friendship was tight, we skipped school together, we skipped church together, just to be the first who would hear the opening tunes of the latest album. I mean – nothing could stand in our way! Yet, when he opened the door and said: “I cannot come, my mum is cooking DUSZONKI,” I understood. Both then and now the very name of the dish evokes the memory and images of a family hike with friends to a small meadow on the edge of a mountain creek. I can hear the crackling of the fire, see the sun slowly setting behind the trees, and smell the fresh air suffused with unmistakable aroma of DUSZONKI. So let’s get cooking and who knows, you might hear a Polish word or two while you are at it 

Traditionally made over fire, in a cast iron pot with screw fastened lid, called “kociolek” (pictured). Lack of such pot is not a problem. Dutch oven or a roasting pan in your kitchen oven will do nicely as well. For out-of-the-doors use a thick tin-foil roasting pan over charcoal or in the BBQ. 


4 cups of mid-sized ¼ inch thick sliced potatoes  

4 cups of ¼ inch thick shredded cabbage setting aside several large outer leaves 

2 cups of ¼ inch thick sliced onions 

2 cups of ¼ inch thick sliced mushrooms 

1 heaping cup of ¼ inch thick sliced, cooked, textured sausage (co-op’s Kaszubska or Grimm’s Polish sausage will do very nicely) 

1 heaping cup of smoked bacon, (just not maple flavoured!) cut into bite-size squares, setting aside several uncut slices 

In a large bowl or pot mix thoroughly all the ingredients together, seasoning with salt, pepper and marjoram (if you don’t have marjoram, use oregano). 

Layer the bottom and sides of the dish you are using with few cabbage leaves. Fill with the mixed ingredients. Arrange uncut bacon slices on top and cover with remaining cabbage leaves. Pour in ½ cup water and close with a lid (or double tin foil if using tin roasting pan on charcoal or BBQ). Bake in the oven at 425 for one hour, or at 375 for 90 min., whichever feels more comfortable. Use medium heat in the BBQ, or charcoal. Some temperatures vary so don’t be afraid to lift the lid at 2/3 time and poke it with a knife. If potatoes feel cooked – you are ready! Serve with rye bread, cold beer or red wine. Smacznego! 


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