“Zapiekanki” – or, in English, oven baked baguettes, are among the most popular types of Polish street food. I never thought it could be just a Polish thing. The concept is so simple and uses ingredients known and used worldwide – it just had to be present everywhere, right? So when three girls from three different countries (years ago!) came to my secondary school to have classes with us for a week, it truly shocked me when they unanimously declared that “zapiekanki” were their favourite thing in my country. Here’s a recipe for upgraded, high-quality home-made version of, I suppose, a typically Polish dish?
Frankly, I still don’t quite believe that this idea isn’t widespread in other countries. After all, there’s Subway – which basically sells “zapiekanki”. Back when I was a child (there was no Subway in those times), the street, fast-food version of this dish was far less fancy and sophisticated. It was basically a giant slab of baguette-wannabe bread covered with an artificial cheesy-mushroomy substance topped with ketchup and/or mustard. Every place selling hot dogs or hamburgers also had “zapiekanki” on the menu. And although the quality and nutritional value were highly questionable (well, it was fast food, after all) – it was everywhere and I have to admit I kind of liked it (don’t judge me, I was a child!).
Times have changed, and so did street- and fast food. You’ll still find McDonald’s type of food, but there’s been a growing number of restaurants selling hamburgers and such in high-quality, fresh versions using real, nutritious ingredients. As a result, our “zapiekanki” went through a major makeover. Yes, you’ll still find them in the old form where cheap fast food is in demand (concerts, sports events and such). But you’ll also find little restaurants and cafes specializing in real, quality “zapiekanki”. With real, whole grain bread, fresh vegetables and a variety of flavour-packed sauces. Delicious!
But of course, there’s the final question – why eat street food, when you can make the same dish at home?
For 2 rather huge portions:
- 1 French baguette (I like to use whole grain ones)
- 2 single chicken breasts
- soy sauce
- 1/3 green bell pepper, chopped up
- 1/3 red bell pepper, chopped up
- 1/3 yellow bell pepper, chopped up
- a few slices of cheese
- a few slices of bacon
- 1 small purple onion, cut into thin rings
- garlic sauce (recipe here)
- Italian herbs, salt, pepper
Prepare garlic sauce (it’s best to do it 30-60 minutes in advance).
Fry the bacon on a pan. Don’t add any oil, bacon usually contains fat which will be released as you fry it. Fry until crispy, move onto a plate.
Leave a little bit of fat from the bacon on the pan (not too much, just enough for the pan to remain greased). Pour away the excess fat.
Dice the chicken breasts into small, 1cm pieces. Fry them on the pan greased with the fat that was left after frying bacon. Add soy sauce, salt and pepper and fry until no longer raw (it doesn’t take long, 5-10 minutes should be enough depending on the size of your pieces).
Cut the baguette in half.
Cut open each half, but don’t cut all the way through – leave the skin on one side intact, so that you can open the baguette like a book, without it falling apart into two pieces (the baguette will be packed with toppings, it will be difficult to eat it with the top and bottom parts of bread separated and loose).
Spread ketchup on one side of each baguette and garlic sauce on the other, like butter. Stick bacon and shredded lettuce into the sauces.
Fill the baguettes with remaining goodies: bell peppers, chicken, onion. Finally, add a few pieces of cheese.
Sprinkle the baguettes with Italian herbs.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Bake for around 15-20 minutes (cheese should be nicely melted).