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Vepro-Knedlo-Zelo – Czech Republic National Dish – Day 83/Dish 48

April 9, 2010

Hello my trusty companions.  All this travelling and the heat of Cyprus left me very thirsty.  Anyone care to join me for a cold Budweiser on deck while we listen to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and float towards our next country?  Now that I think of it, beer history buffs might know that the original Budweiser was brewed in our next country.   And, our next country was called Bohemia for hundreds of years.

The Czech Republic, formerly Czechoslovakia is located in central Europe.  To get there we head west in the Mediterranean till we reach the shores of Northern Italy deep in the Adriatic Sea.  We then head overland through Austria and into the heart of the European Union.  Surrounded by land and influential neighbors such as Germany, Poland, Austria, and Slovakia the Czech Republic was at the height of its power during the Middle Ages.  You can see the remnants of this period in the castles and fortresses that dot the landscape.

Bohemia remained a firm part of central Europe’s history for over 1000 years.  It played a key role as the third part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until its collapse after WW1. 

In the 16th century, Ferdinand I, ordered beer brewers in Ceske Budejovice to provide Budvar beer for the royal household. Ceske Budejovice is the home of Budweiser.  This conflict was the center of a suit by Anheuser Busch over the rights to use the name.  Ultimately the mega brewer (now Dutch owned) lost the fight and Czech beer drinkers can go on drinking their favorite beer complete with its current name intact.

From 1918 till the late 1980’s the country was called Czechoslovakia and was combined with the neighboring country of Slovakia.  This ended along with the Cold War and the breakup of Soviet and Yugoslav allied Socialist Republics into separate entities.  Slovakia and the newly formed Czech Republic split forming two nations.

Today, the Czech Republic is a fully developed nation with very high marks for Human Development.  It is also a very popular tourist destination known for beautiful scenery, Gothic architecture and great food.

The national dish of the Czech Republic is Vepro-Knedlo-Zelo.  Essentially the food of this region is very similar and includes ingredients like cabbage, potatoes, pork and dishes like Paprikash (we will revisit that recipe later).   Vepro-Knedlo-Zelo is Roasted Pork Loin with Red Cabbage and Dumplings. 

This dish gets a 2 for difficulty.  It is simple to assemble.  The only challenge is the dumpling recipe. The one I made seemed to be slightly off in its measurements.  Of course I have never made Czech Dumplings before, but I had to improvise and add more flour and less water to get a consistency that worked for making balls of dough.  I have included the revisions below.  The end product was tasty but I thought a bit dense.

CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION

 

 

 

 

Rating:

Appearance:  3 out of 5

Aroma: 4 out of 5

Flavor: 4 out of 5

Total: 11 out of 15

Ingredients:

Serves 4

preheat oven 450º F [232º C]

1 pork roast, about 3 pounds [1? kg]

dash salt

1 Tbsp caraway seeds

1 onion, diced

2 c [? L] water, approx.

METHOD:

Sprinkle a little salt all over the pork roast.  Place meat in pan.  Dice onion; distribute it

 and caraway seeds across top of roast.  Add enough water to bring liquid 1/4 way up meat.

Cover and place in preheated oven.  Turn temperature down to 325 and bake for about

1 1/2 – 2 hours (approximately 20-25 minutes to a pound).

Remove and check for doneness, internal temperature of 165° F [73° C] for pork loin or

185° F [85° C] for shoulder.  If the meat needs a darker color, remove lid and return to

oven for another 10-15 minutes to brown.

Allow meat to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

NOTE: Serve meat with Czech dumplings, gravy, and red cabbage.

(Prepare and cook cabbage and bun-dumpling and gravy)

Cut meat, serve with cabbage, or red cabbage or sauerkraut and bun-dumpling with the

gravy over top.

GRAVY:

1 package pork gravy mix + water according to package directions

1 c [250 ml] water + 1/4 c [60 ml] Wondra Flour

NOTE: You can make pan gravy with the roast drippings if so desired.

METHOD:

After fully cooked, remove meat to serving platter and quickly make the following sauce

in the pan with its drippings.  Pour disolved commercial gravy mixture into roasting pan

and over high heat stir until boiling.  Turn down to low boil and stir, scraping bottom &

sides of pan to bring loose all the flavorful bits that have stuck to roaster while baking.

After about 2-3 minutes quickly blend the water and flour and pour into gravy.  Mix well

cooking until thickened.  Immediately remove from heat.

Red Cabbage n Èervené zelí

medium head red cabbage, cored

1 onion, chopped

1 T oil

1 c [250 ml] water

dash salt

3 T vinegar

2 T sugar

1 T Wondra flour

METHOD:

Shred the cabbage into strips about 1/4″ by 1 or 2 inches [ 1/2 x 2-4 cm].  Chop onion;

heat oil in medium sized pot; cook onion until soft.  Add cabbage, water, and salt; cover

and simmer on very low heat about 30-40 minutes until limp but not mushy.  [There

should be very little water left at this point.  If there’s more than a few tablespoons

present, drain most of it off, either reserving it for soup or discarding it.]  Finish by

stirring in vinegar and sugar.  Taste test to see if it needs more salt/sugar/vinegar.

Sprinkle flour across cabbage while quickly blending to avoid lumping.  Turn up heat and

cook, stirring, until thickened.

HOUSKOVE KNEDLIKY (Bun-dumplings)

                5 cups farina (or flour)

                1.5 cups lukewarm water

                1 scant cup of milk

                2-3 eggs (2 if Jumbo)

                1 tablespoon salt

                5 large (old) buns, horns or white bread

METHOD:

First, cut (old) buns, horns or white bread into small croutons. If fresh,toast or fry so

they are crisp. Select the best farina or flour you can get. Mix water, milk, eggs, and

salt, keep adding farina until dough is smooth and makes bubbles and doesn’t stick to the

 bowl. Mix in croutons. Divide into 4 parts, form oblong ball dumplings. Let set for about

30 minutes. Place into salty boiling water, cook for about 25 minutes. Cut with a string.

This national (Sunday) Czech dinner should be washed down with Pilsener beer (the famous

native drink).

 

http://www.thegutsygourmet.net/natl-czech-republic.html

other sources: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4126181,00.html

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jihad permalink
    April 9, 2010 1:21 pm

    Not a dish I would eat again. Although that’s no reflection on your cooking my love!

  2. April 9, 2010 1:23 pm

    LOL I guess that proves that not every dish will be loved by everyone. I will try harder next time…;)

    XOXO

  3. April 9, 2010 3:44 pm

    Eric!

    So excited that you chose this particular dish! Silent Bob and I head out for Germany in a few days and are planning a side trip to Prague… I cannot tell you how excited we are to see this gorgeous city! I will look for this dish on the menus at whatever little guesthouse kitchens we frequent… I’ll be humming Bohemian Rhapsody under my breath and lookin’ for an authentic ‘Bud’ as we order! Tschuss!

  4. April 9, 2010 4:40 pm

    Susan! Have an excellent and safe voyage. Take lots of pictures and send us some!
    Eric

  5. Honza Novák permalink
    May 19, 2011 9:33 am

    Hi Eric! I don’t know who’s your source for this recipe, but it’s definitely not a trustable source:-) None of the Czechs would probably eat this, no offense. No wonder people won’t eat this again! This recipe is entirely wrong. Email me to get a real recipe 😉

    • May 19, 2011 9:56 am

      Hi Honza,

      Thanks for the note! I am always struggling to find a good authentic recipe to follow. I am pretty good at following a decent recipe but sometimes a translated recipe gets the proportions out of whack and that may have been what happened here.

      I did like the flavors of the dish, but that is no surprise since I love pork and cabbage!

      I would love an authentic recipe. If you care to leave one in the comments, then everyone could see it.

      Thanks,
      Eric

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