Placek Po Zbojnicku translates into English as the outlaw's potato pancake. The reason, I suppose, may have been that it was so satisfying that it fed the appetites of men on the run from the law. That's just an idle guess but it is a popular dish nevertheless for law-abiding types as well. Often it is served in chalet-like diners all across Poland. Housed in tradition, these ubiquitous restaurants appear for all the world like the quaint cabins that are found in mountainous ski resorts.They were once more common in Southern Poland but their success has seen them become regular fare all across the country.
The mountainous regions between Southern Poland and Czechoslovakia and Hungary are crossed by nebulous borderlines. History has seen these lines move in the territorial wars of this region without affecting the essential culture of the indigenous inhabitants, the Gorals. Perhaps it is from here in this distinct culture where the old name of this dish came, from a place known for the most famous outlaw in the Slavic world, Juraj Jánošík.
The historical Jánošík like Robin Hood and Jesse James was a more prosaic figure than the legend that has grown around him. The historical record describes a young soldier who became a highwayman working in the regions outlying present day Hungary and Poland. There is evidence that he and his group held to a gentle code, choosing not to harm their victims and sometimes sharing their spoils with the poor. A good heart could not save Jánošík from prosecution, however. Eventually after one escape, Jánošík was inextricably caught and sentenced to a brutal death.
The legend of Jánošík only grew after his death. He became a symbol of resistance against oppression in all its forms in the centuries that followed. Nineteenth-century writers would color his exploits in the current liberation struggles of the day. An anti-Nazi resistance group in Hungary would adopt his name. Today there are films and books made and remade about him.
Perhaps there is no link at all between this famous outlaw and the name of our recipe, but it never hurts to speculate.
Here is the recipe to enjoy at your leisure.
One can of tomato paste or two tomatoes
One cup of corn
200 ml of pickled peppers
One packet of Vegeta seasoning
Two tablespoons of tomato ketchup
One handful of Majoram and dried Oregano
Two tablespoons of cooking oil
Two or three tablespoons of flour
60 gm of potatoes
Grate the carrots. Add a little cooking oil to a frying pan and turn to low heat. Fry the carrots for a few minutes and then add a little water and cook gently at low heat. Cut the pickled peppers into thin strips and add to the carrots. Cut two of the onions into cubes and fry in cooking oil in a separate pan until they are glazed. Now add the onions to the carrots and peppers. Cook for a few minutes and you have your filling. If you prefer a non-vegetarian filling it is easy to prepare some fried chicken and cut the meat into small pieces.
Grate the potatoes and a single onion and put in a mixing bowl. Add the flour and eggs and season according to your taste with salt and pepper. Stir the mixture till it is homogeneous. Fry the mixture into pancakes.