An idea for a perfect Sunday lunch, perhaps? Very much so for most Slovak people. Despite strong western influences penetrating into Central European cuisine, our LUNCH is still the main and largest meal of the day. In practice, it means a cooked, decent meal between 12 and 1 o’clock, which nicely fills your stomach for the rest of the working day.
A Sunday lunch has even more value for Slovaks. It’s something of a treat for the whole family at the end of the week, so it deserves to be a nice, home-made meal, even though more laborious than that on workdays. After all, Sunday morning is a time when everyone’s at home lazying in bed or in front of TV, so they can chip in with help.
So here goes the recipe.
Roast Pork with Steamed Dumpling & Red Cabbage
For roast pork:
1 kg pork loin
salt, black pepper, rosemary and mustard to taste
2 tablespoons oil
fine flour for dusting the gravy
For the cabbage :
1 small red cabbage
salt, black pepper, ground cinnamon and cloves to taste
100 ml red wine
100 ml red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 small onion
oil and water for braising
For the dumpling:
500 g flour (plain wheat can be combined with wholemeal one in a desired ratio)
42 g fresh yeast
300 ml warm milk
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons oil
Take out the pork from the fridge and leave to stand at room temperature.
The dumpling takes longest to make, so let’s start with the dough. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Be careful to spread it well around the flour so that it doesn’t get in direct contact with the yeast at the next stage. Heat the milk in a heatproof mug over a low heat until warm. Add a little sugar and stir well. Transfer half of the milk into a glass. Between the tips of your fingers, crumble the yeast into the glass. Stir well until the yeast dissolves. Add a pinch of flour to kick-start fermentation. Cover the glass and leave it in a warm place.
When the yeast rises up to the brim, pour all the contents of the glass onto the flour, as well as the other half of the warm milk. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and knead by hand. Pour in a little warm water, if needed, to achieve smooth but firm consistency like that in the picture on the right. Cover and leave to stand in a warm place for an hour.
Meanwhile, wash and quarter the red cabbage. Shred it finely on a chopping board, discarding the hard core. On a different board, chop the onion and fry it in a pot with a little oil until lightly brown. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and let caramelize. Throw in the shredded cabbage and caraway seeds. Stir well and fry for 2 minutes over a medium heat. Season with salt, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves. Add the red wine, stir well and let simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed.
While the cabbage is cooking, let’s prepare the meat for roasting.
Rinse the pork under the running water and pat it dry. Put it in a roasting tin and pour the oil all over the meat. Season with salt and black pepper. Rub the mustard onto the meat and sprinkle with the rosemary.
Heat the oven to 230ºC. Place the pork in the oven and roast for 15 minutes to seal in the juices. Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC. Cover the roasting tin with a piece of tinfoil and continue cooking for a further 1½ hour. Check the meat from time to time to ensure there is enough oil and liquids. If not, add some more oil and/or water.
Back to the cabbage to check its tenderness. If the leaves are soft enough and sticky with the juices, pour in the red wine vinegar*, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, but leave covered on the cooker to keep warm.
* I didn’t have the red wine vinegar at home, so I made a good use of the sauerkraut juice left from the previous recipe (Slovak Mushroom Dip).
Now let’s have a look at the dough. It should have doubled in volume by now, so transfer it onto a floured surface and shape into two large dumplings. Dust your hands with flour if the dough feels sticky. Leave to stand for 15 – 20 minutes to allow the dumplings to rise.
Meanwhile, prepare a steamer and fill it with water. Bring to the boil and put one of the dumplings in. Let it steam for 20 minutes, then take it out gently with a large wooden spatula, and transfer on a serving platter. Repeat the same with the other dumpling. You may notice the dumplings have increased their volume again during the steaming. Cover them with a clean dish-towel to keep warm.
Now it’s time to finish the meat. If it is tender and cooked through (you can check this by inserting a fork or a skewer in it), remove the tinfoil and increase the oven temperature to 250ºC. Make sure there is enough oil in the tin, and roast uncovered for another 5 minutes or until the meat gets a nice, golden crust.
Hopefully, it will look like this or even better.
Take the roast out and set aside on a platter to rest before carving.
Bring the meat juices in the roasting tin to a simmer and dust with the flour. Pour in a little water, if needed, and stir until well combined. Heat for a couple of minutes until the gravy has thickened, then season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Finally, slice the dumpling and carve the roast. Arrange on a plate with as much red cabbage as you like. Drizzle with the gravy and serve immediately.