Wild Mushroom & Tomato Risotto

We have an abundance of forests, woods and meadows in Slovakia that are not only a home to flowers, berries, bears, wolves and other wildlife, but they also fill with a great variety of mushrooms every year. It’s fair to say that Slovakia is a mushroom paradise. Mushroom picking has become a national sport, so there’s only few people (like me) who don’t practise.

Although wild mushrooms grow in our countryside all year round, the picking season almost invariably peaks around June/July, and then again in October. True, some years are better than others, but you will always find fleshy chanterelles, slippery jacks, or gourmet porcini around this time of year.

Our cuisine is full of recipes using wild mushrooms. If you want to try the one below, you can, of course, replace wild mushrooms with the common supermarket type, but the rich earthy flavours and a specific aroma will be missing from the dish.DSC_0095

Wild Mushroom & Tomato Risotto
Serves 2

  • 200 g rice
  • 200 g wild mushrooms
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 4 small tomatoes
  • 100 g Encián or Camembert style cheese
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons oil or butter
  • chives to top

Method:

  1. Clean the mushrooms with a soft brush or your finger. If this doesn’t remove all the forest debris, rinse the mushrooms quickly under running water. Don’t soak them, as the caps absorb the water readily, which dulls their flavour and characteristic aroma.
  2. Trim off the stem bottoms and slice the mushrooms. Place the rice on a fine-mesh sieve and wash under running water. Let drain. Peel and chop the onion. Wash and slice the tomatoes. Rinse the chives.
  3. Put a wide heavy-bottom pan over a low heat and throw in the sliced muhrooms. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Dry-roast the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, or until they release the remaining moisture. Add the oil or butter, increase the heat to medium, and sauté the mushrooms until slightly brown. Stir now and then to prevent burning.
  4. Throw in the chopped onion and the rice. Season with ground black pepper and roast for a few minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the sliced tomatoes and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  5. Pour in as much water as to cover the rice. Stir and cover with a lid. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the water.
  6. Meanwhile, slice or dice the cheese. Add it to the rice when it is cooked to the right tenderness. Stir to spread the cheese all around the rice.
  7. Serve hot with the chopped chives sprinkled over the top.

Cucumber Patties with Parenitza Cheese

When I was preserving cucumbers a few weeks ago, some of the vegetables were not suitable for pickling, mainly because of their size. So I had to put them away in the fridge, and use them either in salads, or cooking.

Here’s an example of what I did with the last one left in stock. Cucumber patties are at their best right after taking them out of the pan, but they can also be eaten cold as a healthy nibble between meals.

I chose to top my patties with parenica (parenitza) cheese – one of the traditional Slovak cheeses documented in A Taste of Slovakia book. I’m planning to write a separate post about parenitza, as the cheese has a very special place in our diet – and culture.DSC_0038Cucumber Patties with Parenitza Cheese
Serves 2

  • 1 large cucumber (about 350 g)
  • ½ cup oatflakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • a handful of green scallion tops, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red paprika
  • oil for frying
  • 50 g parenitza cheese (or cheese of your choice) to top
  • 2 medium tomatoes to garnish, sliced

Method:

  1. Wash the cucumber and grate it roughly into a large bowl.DSC_0026
  2. Rinse the oatflakes under running water and add to the grated cucumber. Stir in the salt and black pepper. Let stand for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the oatflakes have absorbed all the cucumber juices. In the meantime, wash the scallion tops and chop them. Rinse and slice the tomatoes.
  3. Break the eggs into the cucumber-oatflake mixture, throw in the green scallion tops, and add the paprika. Mix until well combined and put aside.DSC_0030
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Scoop a large tablespoon of the mixture into the hot oil, and pat it with the back of the spoon to form a small pancake (a patty). Depending on the size of your pan, you can do more patties in one go. Adjust the heat to medium-low and fry until the patties edges turn slightly brown.DSC_0033
  5. Be gentle when turning them on the other side. The patties are soft and tender, so you will need two wooden spatulas to do so. Place one spatula under a patty, the other one on its top, and turn carefully. Fry until the patties are cooked through and crispy. Take them out on a plate covered with a kitchen towel, which will absorb the excess oil. Cover and keep warm. Repeat with another batch until you have used all the mixture.
  6. Divide the patties between two serving plates and top with the cheese. Garnish with the sliced tomatoes and the remaining greens.

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    Cucumber Patties with Parenitza Cheese

Buckwheat Groats with Grilled Vegetables

Have you ever heard of buckwheat?

Did you know this long-forgotten food plant is more than 6000 years old? It was first cultivated in Southeast Asia, from where it slowly spread all over the world. As an inexpensive source of valuable proteins, buckwheat had played an important role in Eastern European cuisines before it was displaced by more productive cereals like wheat, corn, barley or even rice. Today, buckwheat is experiencing a renaissance, thus filling our kitchens with a whole range of classic, as well as brand-new dishes.

Despite its name, buckwheat has nothing in common with wheat. It’s not a grass, nor a grain or a cereal. In fact, it’s the seed of a flowering plant related to rhubarb. Buckwheat seeds have a triangular shape and are often referred to as groats.

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Buckwheat groats

Buckwheat groats are rich in rutin, an antioxidant that prevents blood from clotting; they are high in minerals like magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron or phosphorus. Buckwheat is also known to reduce blood sugars and cholesterol levels. It is gluten-free and a very good source of fiber.

Pohánka, the Slovak name for buckwheat, comes from pohania (pagans) – the word our ancestors used for the Tartar people who brought buckwheat to our lands in the 13th century. The First Cookbook in Slovak (Prvá kuchárska kniha v slovenskej reči) from 1870, which features a number of buckwheat recipes, says that ‘buckwheat can be thought of as Slovak rice, and it is a very beneficial food for both the healthy and the sick.’ 

I was inspired to try and recreate Buckwheat Groats with Grilled Vegetables after my last trip to Košice and its whimsical Republic of the East (Republika východu) restaurant.DSC_0060Buchwheat Groats with Grilled Vegetables
Serves 2

  • ½ cup buckwheat groats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 green Slovak pepper (or any bell pepper of your choice)
  • a handful of green scallion tops, chopped
  • ground caraway and turmeric to taste
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • oil for frying
  • 100 g bryndza cheese (or any cheese of your choice) to top

Method:

  1. Rinse the buckwheat groats on a sieve under running water. Transfer into a small pot or a saucepan and pour in the water. Add a pinch of salt, stir and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low, stir gently, and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the buckwheat has absorbed all the water and doubled in volume.
  2. Wash the vegetables and cut, slice or chop them, as applicable. Put some of the green scallion tops aside.DSC_0057
  3. Pour a little oil in a frying pan and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, throw in the vegetables and stir in the seasoning. Gril for about 10 minutes, turning and stirring the vegetables around the pan as needed.
  4. Divide the cooked buckwheat groats onto two plates and cover with a generous layer of the hot grilled vegetables. Top with the cheese and the remaining green scallions.DSC_0066Buckwheat Groats with Grilled Vegetables

Enjoy a hearty, nutritious meal full of exciting summer smells and flavours.

Shoolantze – Slovak rolled pasta

An English-speaking lady with Slovak roots has contacted me recently asking for two ‘very Slovak’ recipes her Grandma used to make. Although I didn’t recognize them by the names given, they sounded like some sort of pasta dishes, so I asked for their description. It turned out that the first one was, in fact, a very old name for Halushki, and the second dish is very likely to be what we call Šúľance (transcribed into English as Shoolantze) today.

Šúľance are little pieces of pasta that get their name from the rolling movement (šúľanie in Slovak) applied to the dough by hand in the process of kneading. Most Slovaks will serve šúľance with ground poppy seeds, which are very common and popular in Slovak cuisine, but my Mum would often top them with home-made breadcrumbs or even ground walnuts. Whatever topping you’ll choose, melted butter is the vital ingredient to give ‘shoolantze’ that delicious velvety finish.

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Šúľance or Shoolantze
Serves 4

  • 600 g potatoes
  • 200 g coarse/strong/bread flour*
  • pinch of salt
  • about 150 g ground poppy seeds or breadcrumbs
  • 100 g unsalted butter, melted
  • powdered sugar for dusting
*The amount of the flour may change slightly according to the type of the potatoes, as well as the flour used. Anyway, the instructions and pictures below should be a good guide to what you need to achieve in the dough.

Method:

Clean the potato skins with a damp sponge and place in a pot. Fill it with enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to the boil, adjust the heat and let cook for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a skewer.

Drain the potatoes and let cool down until they are cold enough to handle. Peel them and mash with a potato masher or a fork. Add the flour and a pinch of salt. Work into a smooth, slightly sticky dough. Cover with a dish-towel and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, grind the poppy seeds, or dry-roast the breadcrumbs in a saucepan over a low heat. Remember to stir the breadcrumbs all the time to prevent them from burning. Set aside.

Take the dough out of the fridge and transfer onto a floured rolling board. Dust your hands with flour, sprinkle some over the dough and divide into 8 parts – sort of balls. To make shoolantze, gently roll each ball into a long rope of 1 cm thickness. Cut into pieces about 5 cm long, dust with flour and put aside on a floured surface.

When you have used all the dough, bring a large pot of slightly salted water to the boil. Turn down the heat and throw the shoolantze in it one by one. Depending on the size of your pot, you may have to throw them in two or three batches.

Stir gently and cook each batch over a medium-low heat until the shoolantze come up to the surface. Take them out with a sieve or a slotted spoon, and transfer onto plates. Stir in a tablespoon of the melted butter. Cover and keep warm.

When all the shoolantze have been cooked and buttered, sprinkle each serving with the ground poppy seeds or the roasted breadcrumbs. Dust with the powdered sugar and pour the rest of the warm melted butter over the top. Serve immediately.

I hope the lady who was an inspiration for this post will find what she was looking for. Thanks to her, I have rediscovered a delicious meal I haven’t made for ages. True, I had to call my Mum to tie up a few loose ends, and I believe the recipe we have put together for Shoolantze will delight many of those with a sweet tooth.

Chicken Braised in Beer

This is a special bonus for Cookslovak fans and followers, as well as those who have already bought the cookbook. Each recipe in A Taste of Slovakia’ had been tested at least twice, so we had a good choice of photos from different shoots when my graphic designer was laying out the book pages. Sometimes a batch of pictures came out so well that it wasn’t easy to choose just one or two. At other times, we had a completely different problem and I had to repeat the same dish over and over again to finally get a photo we were reasonably happy with.

When leafing through the book now, I can still see flaws and imperfections, but that’s what learning is about – a work in progress, constant refinement of the style and honing your skills. Although the recipe below is identical with the one that appears in the book, the photos are different, so those who own or have seen a copy can compare, judge and comment.

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Chicken Braised in Beer
Serves 4

  • 1 chicken, gutted and carved
  • 200 g smoked bacon, sliced
  • 500 g sauerkraut
  • ¾ cup dark beer (200 ml)
  • salt, pepper, caraway, paprika to taste

Method:

  1. Use half of the bacon slices to line the roasting dish. Put the sauerkraut on the bacon slices and spread around evenly.
  2. Wash the chicken pieces and pat them dry. Rub the seasoning onto the chicken and put it on the sauerkraut. Cover with the rest of the bacon slices.
  3. Pour some of the beer over the chicken and put in the oven. Cook at 200°C for about 40 minutes, adding more beer when needed. The chicken is cooked through when the meat is coming away from the bone. Increase the temperature to 250°C and cook for another 5 – 10 minutes to give the chicken a nice, golden brown crust.
  4. Serve with boiled potatoes or rice and a garnish of sauerkraut.

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The juicy sauerkraut adds exciting zing to the dish which, together with a subtle undertone of the beer and crispiness of the bacon makes for a delectable Sunday lunch.

As I wrote in the post on Decadent Sauerkraut Soup, sauerkraut is a very popular ingredient in my country now that it’s still in the grip of a long, cold winter. As for beer, I learnt about its many uses in the kitchen when I was researching recipes for my cookbook – and I was surprised by the new flavours this ingredient imparted to classic dishes.

Roasted ‘Encian’ with Cranberries

Most of you will probably associate cranberries with turkey and Thanksgiving, but in Slovakia, we prefer to serve them with game and, quite often, they will also garnish grilled or roasted cheese. It should be said though that only certain types of cheese are suited to pan-roasting, and for this recipe in particular, the choice is even narrower. The good news is that the cheese you will need is available worldwide, though it might be sold under different names.

Encián is the Slovak variety of French Camembert – a soft, creamy cow’s milk cheese with a bloomy edible rind. Like Camembert, Encián is sold whole as small (80 g) or large (110 g) round cheese in cardboard boxes. In the neighbouring Czech Republic, Hermelín cheese is a very close relative to Encián, or perhaps is it vice versa? It’s really difficult to trace the origins of this simple, classic dish, as the Czechs and Slovaks lived together in one country for over seventy years, which explains why their cuisines are so close to each other.

So let’s enjoy one of the Czecho-Slovak dishes, which is perfect for a light dinner, or as a finger-licking treat for your surprise guests. In the recipe below I used the small cheese rounds of 80 g, but larger ones are perfectly fine as well, especially if your family or friends are ‘big eaters’. Also I put to good use the last bottle of the Cranberry Compote left from the previous preserving season.

dsc_0025 Roasted ‘Encian’ with Cranberries
Serves 2

  • 2 Encian rounds (80 g each)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons cranberry compote
  • salt, black pepper, oregano to taste
  • oil for frying
  • fresh vegetables to garnish

Method:

Wash and cut or slice the vegetables. Arrange them on a serving plate.

Warm a pan over a low heat. Brush the cheese rounds all over with oil. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and oregano to taste. Put the cheese rounds in the pan, increase the heat to medium, and roast on both sides for about 10 minutes. This will ensure the cheese is soft inside and lightly browned on the outside.

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Transfer the warm cheeses on the serving plates, top with the cranberry compote and serve immediately with slices of wholegrain bread.

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Grilled Encián or Hermelín with a cranberry sauce is often prepared fresh at open-air food festivals around Slovakia. You can also get it at Christmas market stalls, which will open in all Slovak towns and cities in about 10 days.

Bryndza Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

I introduced our famed cheese in the post on Bryndza Cheese Sticks last year. With this year’s sheep farming season in full spate and some fine weather over the last month, our mountain meadows have turned into luscious pastures, so we are getting fresh supplies of bryndza cheese again.

The May bryndza, as we in Slovakia call it, is creamier and more flavourful than that made of sheep’s milk cheese stored in wooden barrels over the winter. It’s also less salty, as this is the ingredient used for preserving ground sheep’s milk cheese in the winter.

To do some aditional photography for the book I’m writing, I bought different bryndza labels a couple of weeks ago and tried a few more recipes. The one I want to share with you today also uses the bear garlic I got from my friend. Her parents have a large orchard in a remote hamlet in the mountains, so whatever she brings down from her weekend visits can be classified as bio-produce.

Bear garlic, also known under the names of ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic or wood garlic, is a wild plant that grows not only in forested areas of continental Europe and northern Asia, but also in British woodlands and eastern regions of Canada and the USA. I hear the herb can also be found in some London’s parks. If you want to have a go at Bryndza Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms outside the bear garlic season, feel free to replace bear garlic with other fresh herbs like chives, spinach or parsley greens.

To substitute Bryndza cheese in the recipe below, you can use any soft sheep’s milk cheese you can get locally, although I’m quite sure it won’t taste anywhere near as Slovak Bryndza 🙂

Bryndza Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves 4

  • 12 mushrooms
  • 150 g bryndza cheese
  • 2 handfuls bear garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • a little oil for frying
  • radishes or other seasonal vegetables to garnish

Method:

Take the cheese out of the fridge 30 minutes prior the cooking to let it soften.

  1. Rinse the bear garlic leaves and let them dry off on a chopping board. Rinse the mushrooms, remove the stems and make a little hole in each cap by scooping out some of the insides. Don’t discard either the stems or the insides, as they both add flavour to sauces or make a wonderful soup (they can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days).
  2. Put the cheese in a bowl and mash it with a fork. Chop the bear garlic leaves and add to the cheese (leave some herbs to garnish if you prefer). Add the paprika and mix well to spread the bear garlic and paprika all around the cheese paste.
  3. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the mushroom caps over a medium heat until slightly charred. If you want them tender, add a little water and let the caps sweat in a pan for 10 minutes. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
  4. In another small pan, quickly fry the sesame seeds over a medium heat to lightly char them.
  5. Put three mushroom caps on a plate, place a mound of the cheese paste inside each cap, top with the sesame seeds, and garnish with the radishes or other seasonal vegetables. Serve warm on its own or with fresh bread on the side.

Enjoy and let me know how it works for you!

Breaded Pork Steaks with Potato Salad

This is another classic dish that seems to be rooted in our history and geographical position in Central Europe. Having been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1867 to 1918 and sharing the southern border with Austria since then, we have borrowed a few cooking techniques and ideas from the Austrians as well. Our breaded pork steak closely resembles the Viennese style schnitzel and is often served with a potato salad, especially on festive occasions like Christmas, Easter, or at our wedding parties.

The potato salad, which is normally made with mayonnaise, is quite heavy on stomach, so I have decided to omit the mayo this time to give it a healthier twist:

Breaded Pork Steaks with Potato Salad
Serves 5

For the steaks:

  • 10 pork loin steaks
  • 8 tablespoons fine four
  • 2 – 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 10 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • oil for frying

For the salad:

  • 1½ kg medium size potatoes
  • 2 – 4 hardboiled eggs
  • 400 g carrot & pea mixture (frozen or canned)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

Rinse the potatoes with their skins on and let dry off. Cook them in a steamer until tender (check by poking a potato with a fork or skewer). Put aside and let cool down.

Meanwhile, wash the steaks and pat them dry. Place on a wooden board and make a few short cuts at the edge of each steak to break the tissue. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and tenderize on both sides.

Break the eggs into a deep plate and beat with a fork until whites and yolks combine. Spoon in the milk and beat again to make a thin mixture.

Put the flour and breadcrumbs in two other deep plates. Dust each steak in the flour first, then dip it in the egg mixture, and roll in the breadcrumbs to finish the coating.

Put the coated steaks aside on a clean tray and leave to rest.

Now let’s prepare the potato salad. Peel the cooked potatoes and dice or cut them into shapes of your choice. We in Slovakia use a nifty little gadget for this purpose that can be bought in all kitchenware shops around the country. We pass the soft potatoes through it straight into the salad bowl:

Add the carrot & pea mixture to the potatoes. If you’re using frozen carrots & peas, cook them in water for about 5 minutes before adding to the potatoes. In case of canned vegetables, it is good to strain them on a sieve beforehand.

Dice or chop the boiled eggs and add them to the potatoes. Do the same with the cucumber, then season to taste with salt and black pepper. Add the basil and mustard, spoon in the oil and the white vinegar. Combine all the ingrediets well with a wooden spoon. Leave to stand in a cool place.

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Back to the steaks now to fry them. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and place the steaks in it. Cook them in batches over a medium-low heat for about 15 minutes on each side. When they are cooked through and crispy brown on the surface, take the steaks out and put on a kitchen towel to drain excess oil.

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Serve hot with a generous helping of the potato salad on the side.

Breaded Pork Steaks with Potato Salad
Breaded Pork Steaks with Potato Salad

When paired with a mayonnaised potato salad, fried breaded pork steak is a devilish combination, which health experts and nutritionists would certainly frown upon. But that’s exactly why we only serve it on festive occasions like Christmas or Easter. And even then we’ll make more balanced choices and replace the steak with fried fish. Yes, modern Slovak cuisine is becoming much more health-oriented now that recipes and new ideas ‘travel’ happily around the internet and across the borders.

Lentil Stew with Fried Egg

Did you know people ate lentils as early as 13000 BC? At least that’s what archeologists say. No matter how accurate their findings are, the lentil has been part of the human diet for, well – quite some time! And rightly so.

The lentil is low on fat and rich in protein, in fact, it’s got the second highest content of protein among legumes, following soybeans. Although it was considered the food of the poor in the past, the lentil is becoming a popular staple in many modern households.

In my country’s folklore lentils have always been associated with prosperity because of their coin-like shape. That explains why a lentil soup is often served as a starter for the New Year’s Day meal in Slovakia.

I remember having lentils on my plate since I was aware what I was eating. Like most Slovak children these days, I was fed Šošovicový prívarok s volským okom or Lentil Stew with Fried Egg quite regularly in kindergarten. I still like it, I have to admit, and sometimes also cook it with meat to satisfy the carnivores in my family.

Here is a recipe for the Slovak lentil stew, which makes a filling, nutritious dinner, and takes about an hour to prepare.

Lentil Stew with Fried Egg
Serves 4

  • 150 g lentils
  • 1 l water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 allspice corns
  • 4 medium-size potatoes
  • salt, black pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ l milk
  • 2 heaped tablespoons fine flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • basil to taste
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Method:

(you can use photos in this post as a guide, but note they were taken with slightly  different measurements)
  1. Rinse the lentils on a sieve under running water and transfer them into a cooking pot. Add the water, the bay leaves and the allspice corns (encased in a tea strainer for an easier removal at a later stage). Bring to the boil, then adjust the heat to let the lentils simmer for about 40 minutes or until they are almost done.
  2. Meanwhile, peel, wash and dice the potatoes. Peel and crush the garlic. Take the milk out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature.
  3. Add the potatoes and the garlic to the lentils, season to taste with salt and black pepper and stir well. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and break the eggs into it. Fry them over a medium heat, either all at once or in batches (this will depend on the size of your pan) Turn off the heat, sprinkle with salt and basil and cover to keep warm until you finish the lentils.
  5. When the lentils and the potatoes are tender, remove the allspice and the bay leaves. In a hand mixer or a blender, combine the milk with the flour until smooth. Pour the milk mixture in the lentils and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Set aside.
  6. Serve hot in bowls with the fried egg on top, and pieces of bread on the side. For a meaty option, add a fried sausage.

A few decades ago Slovakia was not only self-sufficient in lentil produce, but with its 500 hectares of lentil fields it was also seen as a European lentil power. Unfortunately, this is no longer true, so if we want to cook our traditional lentil dishes today, we often have to resort to imported lentils.

Lentil Stew with Fried Egg or Šošovicový prívarok s volským okom
Lentil Stew with Fried Egg or Šošovicový prívarok s volským okom

Beef Stew with Garden Peas

The second in the series of recipes from Vierka’s rural kitchen is this flavourful, sticky beef stew. Made from the meat of a locally raised young ox and home-grown vegetables, it was an absolute delight to eat. It came with a dollop of boiled rice covered in grated cheese.

My friend used her pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time while keeping all the flavours in. However, most Slovaks make their stew in a classical cooking pot, even though it takes much longer. Surely, you can do other small jobs while the meat is cooking, as long as you stir it occasionally and add more water when needed. The important rule here is that the meat is covered in simmering liquids until it is cooked to desirable tenderness.

Beef Stew with Garden Peas
Serves 4

1,2 kg beef                                                                 
2 tablespoons oil or pork fat
4 large onions                                                         

500 ml beer
water or vegetable stock as needed                                    

1 chilli                                                                       
300 g garden peas  (fresh, frozen or canned)                                               
200 – 300 g tomato purée                                    
salt and black pepper to taste
grated cheese (to sprinkle over the boiled rice)

For the marinade:  4 – 5 tablespoons oil, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon ketchup, 2 teaspoons paprika, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon curry powder

Method:

Wash the meat and pat it dry. Cut into cubes of about 2 cm wide. Prepare the marinade by mixing all the ingredients well and soak the beef cubes in it. Either use your hand or a spatula to spread the marinade all around the meat pieces. Let stand overnight in a cool, dark place.

Peel and chop the onions. Rinse the chilli. Put the oil or pork fat in a pressure cooker and throw in the chopped onions. Let them sweat over a medium heat until translucent, then add the marinated meat. Season with salt and black pepper, increase the heat and fry the meat cubes on all sides until deep brown. Pour in the beer and just enough water or vegetable stock to cover the meat. Stir well and lock the cooker lid in place. Bring the pressure cooker to a steady steam and cook for 20 – 40 minutes (depending on the cut of meat and its toughness).

Turn off the heat and let the pressure cooker stand on the stove/cooker plate for another 15 minutes, or until the steam stops coming from under the pressure valve.

When it is safe to open it, take the cooker lid off and add the garden peas, the chilli and the tomato purée. Bring to a simmer and cook together for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, take out the chilli, if preferred, and serve with boiled rice sprinkled with grated cheese.

Beef Stew with Garden Peas

For those who can’t do without meat, this certainly is a hearty, filling lunch/dinner that will keep you going for quite a few hours.