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Czech Republic: Vepřo-knedlo-zelo

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Ingredients

Adjust Servings:
For the Pork
5 lbs pork shoulder
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion
1/2 cup beer + more as needed
1 Tbsp spicy mustard
2 Tbsp cumin seed
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp butter
For the Dumplings
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3 eggs beaten
1 cup milk + more as needed
4 cups white bread crust removed, cut into cubes
For the Saeurkraut
32 oz jar sauerkraut rinsed and drained
7 slices bacon good quality, thick cut
1 medium yellow onion diced
to taste salt and pepper
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp corn starch

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Czech Republic: Vepřo-knedlo-zelo

Roast Pork with Dumplings and Sauerkraut

Ingredients

  • For the Pork

  • For the Dumplings

  • For the Saeurkraut

Directions

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When we decided to do a pairing dinner for my beer club, I knew I was going to go international.  However, it was my partner Alex’s desire to make a crisp, spicy pilsner that led me to the Czech Republic.  Czech cuisine is a very hearty fare; think meat and potatoes.  Or in this case, meat and dumplings – referred to as knedlíky – that are steamed in loaf form and sliced like bread. Regardless, it pairs nicely with a light and refreshing beer – like a pilsner.

According to Beer Advocate, the Pilsner can be traced back to its namesake: the ancient city of Plzen (or Pilsen) situated in the western half of the Czech Republic in what was once Czechoslovakia and previously part of the of Bohemian Kingdom. Pilsner beer was first brewed back in the 1840’s when the citizens, brewers and maltsters of Plzen formed a brewer’s guild and called it the People’s Brewery of Pilsen – now Pilsner Urquell!  The Czech Pilsner, sometimes known as the Bohemian Pilsner, is smooth and crisp with a clean, malty palate; it’s light in color and crystal clear with prevalent hops and a spicy bitterness or spicy floral flavor and aroma.

Vepřo-knedlo-zelo is shorthand for roast pork (vepřová) with bread dumplings (knedlíky) and sauerkraut (zelí).  As you can imagine, this is anything but light, but it’s very flavorful!  This is a true Czech soul food, thought of as a top tier classic of Czech cuisine, and you’ll find on the menu of most pubs.  This is a good Sunday meal to serve family style, as it takes some time to roast and the end result is a quite large portion.  The good news is you can prep the dumplings and the sauerkraut while the pork is roasting, so there are ways to make the process efficient!  The roast fit perfectly in my new Le Creuset deep covered roasting pan, the first purchase oo my mission to replace my abundance of crappy kitchenware with a smaller collection of high quality essentials. That may take me even longer than this culinary journey, since one piece “on sale” still set me back a whopping $80!

Recipe Source: Epicurious

Steps

1
Done
35 minutes

For the Pork

Form paste with the oil, mustard, cumin seeds, garlic powder, and salt. Rub on pork roast, and sit 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F.

2
Done
1 hour

For the Pork

Place onions in roasting pan. I found that this fit perfectly in a 4.5 quart roasting pan. Add beer. Place roast, fat side down, on top of onions. Cover pan and roast 1 hour.

3
Done
2.5 hours

For the Pork

Turn the roast and score the fat. If liquid is running low, add a bit more beer. Continue roasting, fat side up 2 1/2 hours.

4
Done
10 minutes

For the Pork

Transfer the juice to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and add butter and corn starch to thicken. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

5
Done
10 minutes

For the Dumplings

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in center, and pour in beaten eggs and 1 cup of milk. Mix well. Add enough additional milk to make a moist battery dough, thicker than pancake batter. I did not have to add any additional milk.

6
Done
5 minutes

For the Dumplings

Add white bread cubes, stir into the dough until they disappear. I used straight up white loaf, which is something I literally don't think I've ever had in my house before. Four cups is about 6 pieces, so god knows what we'll do with the rest.

7
Done
45 minutes

For the Dumplings

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place dough onto a cheesecloth* and form into a loaf shape. Wrap cloth around the loaf, and tie the ends. Place the loaf into the boiling water, and cook for 45 minutes, turning the loaf over about half way through. Remove from water, unwrap, and cover with a tea towel. Let stand for 10 minutes.

*I didn't actually have cheese cloth, so I Macgyvered this using one of Courtney's brewing bags. Unfortunately, the boiling water dripped into the pan I was cooking the bacon for the kraut - causing bacon grease to splatter on the bag and burn a hole in it. Don't recommend doing this for the sake of the brewing bag, but the dumpling still turned out!

8
Done
20 minutes

For the Sauerkraut

Cook the bacon. Set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop into pieces. Cook the onion in the bacon grease until golden.

9
Done
15 minutes

For the Sauerkraut

Rinse and drain the sauerkraut and put in a saucepan; add enough water to barely cover the surface and bring to a simmer Add bacon, salt and pepper and cumin seeds. Spoon a couple of spoonfuls of the water into small bowl and mix in the cornstarch; stir back into the sauerkraut. Simmer for another five minutes or so.

10
Done

To Serve

Slice the dumpling loaf. Top with pulled pieces of pork. Drizzle dumpling slices with some of the roast drippings from the pan and serve with sauerkraut and a delicious Czech pilsner!

Johanna

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