When it comes to meat, pork is definitely the most popular in Slovakia, followed by chicken and other poultry like turkey, duck and geese. Although few Slovaks would call themselves vegetarians, we consume half as much meat per capita than in the USA, and less than two thirds of that in the UK.
Slovak cooking has been influenced by Hungarian cuisine, which is felt most strongly in the south of Slovakia, close to the Hungarian border.
The recipe below is another example of how our cuisines have blended over the centuries.
Pork Stew with Spiralled Pasta
Serves 4 – 6
1200 g pork
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium-sized onions
1 large carrot
2 tablespoons paprika
salt, black pepper, sage to taste
water or vegetable stock as needed
1 tablespoon fine flour for thickening
Peel and thinly slice the onions. Rinse the meat and pat it dry. Cut into cubes of about 2 cm wide.
Warm a casserole dish on a cooker plate over a medium heat. Pour in the oil and add the onions. Let sweat for about 3 minutes or until translucent.
Throw in the pork cubes and add the salt. Increase the heat and quickly fry the meat on all sides until it releases juices. Turn down the heat and let simmer, stirring from time to time. When the meat juices have reduced, pour in as much water (or vegetable stock) as to cover the meat. Season with black pepper and bring to the boil. Stew over a medium heat for about 1½ hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water/vegetable stock if needed.
Meanwhile, peel and wash the carrot. Rinse the chilli. If you are using fresh sage as I did, wash and chop the herb. After about an hour, add the carrot and the chilli to the pork and cook together. Make sure the meat is always covered in liquid so as to cook regularly. When the meat is almost done, add to it the flour mixed in a little warm water. Stir well until the stew thickens, then add the paprika and the sage. Continue cooking over a low heat for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain on a sieve and divide into bowls. Ladle the pork stew on top of each helping and serve immediately.
Enjoy the pleasant heat of this wholesome stew with the succulent pork bites nicely complemented by the peppery flavour of the sage.