‘Fasolka Po Bretońsku’ / Beans Stew

Many believe that traditional Polish cuisine is mostly kiełbasa and pierogi. I can’t disagree completely, but the subject is not so two-dimensional. 

Yes, sausage could be a part of many recipes, but if you’ve ever been to a Polish grocery store, you know what it means to choose sausage or cured meat in Poland. The variety is overwhelming sometimes. 

It’s important to use the proper kind of beans for this dish. ‘Fasola Jaś’ / ‘Johnny beans’ are large lima beans that are sold dry. The fresh ‘Jaś’ are everywhere in the markets of Poland during the summer season, but dry beans are perfect anytime. You could use canned lima beans to cut the preparation time, but the texture wouldn’t be the same. 

‘Fasolka po bretońsku’ is one of those dishes for which everyone has their own proven recipe. It’s basically just beans, sausage and Polish style bacon (boczek) cooked in tomato sauce. There’s a lot of room for different styles. 

Ingredients / 4 servings

1 lb dry lima beans  
½ lb good quality smoked sausage, sliced   
7 oz Polish bacon (boczek), diced  
1 large onion, diced 
2 garlic cloves, knife-minced 
1 ½ cup crushed tomatoes, or other canned tomatoes 
½ tbsp tomato paste 
½ cup red wine 
½ tsp sweet paprika or smoked paprika 
2 tsp dry marjoram 
1 dry bay leaf or 2 if using fresh 
1 tsp sugar 
Salt and pepper to taste 


  • Transfer dry beans into a pot or glass bowl. Pour cold water (about 4 inches above the level of the beans) and soak overnight.  

  • The next day, drain and clean the beans. Using a big pot, boil half of the beans with bay leaves, 1 tsp marjoram, and a small piece of Polish bacon (boczek). I also added a few thick slices of smoked ham, just for extra flavor.

  • Boil it for 1 hour.

  • Meanwhile, sauté the rest of the ‘boczek’ and sausage until nicely browned. Add diced onion and sauté until slightly caramelized. Add garlic and paprika, stir. Add tomato paste. Sauté everything for a little while. Deglaze with red wine, boil for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid. Add the sausage mixture to the pot with the cooked beans. Scrape all flavorful bits from the pan.

  • Add the second half of the soaked beans to the pot along with tomatoes, sugar, pepper to taste, and a pinch of salt. The cured meat is already salty, so we have to be very careful not to oversalt it.  

  • Add about 1 cup of water and simmer partially covered for the next 1 ½ hours. Keep stirring from time to time to check thickness and consistency. Add more water if necessary.  
  • At the last moment, salt and pepper to taste, add 1 tsp of marjoram and turn off the heat.  Serve the bean dish with fresh, good quality bread :).

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