My daughter had an interesting history project learning about the Polish hussars. They were an elite regimen in the Polish cavalry in the Crown Kingdom of Poland between the 16th and 18th centuries. It was actually exiled Hungarians who introduced hussar horsemen to the Polish military. At first, the regiments were small and only made up of exiled Hungarians. They fought as mercenaries. The regiments expanded as more and more Poles joined. The Polish hussars came into their full glory in the 1570s, during the height of the powerful Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The hussars wore huge wings made up of a wooden frame and feathers from eagles, ostriches, swans or geese. The hussars wore the wings because they made a loud noise which made the enemy think that cavalry was much larger than it actually was. The hussars’ primary strategy in battle was “the charge.” They started slow and in a loose formation. Then they gradually got faster and faster and moved in close formation when they charged through the enemy. This battle tactic was successful for nearly 200 years.
This traditional beef roast bares the Hussar name. It makes for a hearty main course, particular during the winter months. The beauty of it is that with only salt, pepper, and onion, flavor has a spicy kick to it. But before getting into the onion part of the dish, you must brown the roast. After that, the roast is basically steamed in a casserole/Dutch oven on the stop top.
I think the reason that the roast has such a kick is because of the onion that eventually joins the roast after it has fully cooked is steamed rather than roasted or sautéed. Nope, no chili pepper, just onion. You are supposed to finely grate it. I used my hand grater to do the job, all the while trying to hold back those onion-induced tears. I noticed that the grated onion was swimming in onion juice. I used it all of it in the dish, giving it a big punch. [Note: If you don’t want that punch, just dice the onion finely and saute until translucent.] You mix the onion (+ juice) with fine bread crumbs, add in some butter, salt, and pepper, and stuff the roast with the mixture. But how? Cut slices–but not all the way through–and spoon some of the onion stuffing in between the slices.
While the dish is supposed to be served with the “pan” juices, I thought mushrooms would add a nice dimension. After all, what’s beef without mushrooms?! There is a go-to creamy mushroom sauce in Polish cooking, so I thought it would be just the thing.
It was a little too thick when I made it, so beware of that possibility. Thin it out with extra liquid–even water. Dress the finished roast with some of the mushroom sauce and serve the rest in a gravy boat.
This dish is not a light dish by any stretch of the imagination. Think: Hussars, the Winged Horsemen.