My Top 4 Slovak Smorgasbord Standbys

As a child growing up in New Jersey, I was hot and cold when it came to my grandmother’s Slovak cooking. I loved when she would make modern recipes with a Slovak twist, but I wasn’t too keen on some of the more traditional options like kolachki (butter cookies) or halusky (buttery cheese curd noodles). Even buttered pierogies felt too starchy. Overall I found the traditional items too buttery and associated Slovak cooking with high fat content, which is only true in those few examples.

As I’ve grown older and recently adopted a gluten free and dairy free lifestyle, I find myself cooking Slovak food more than ever! Here are some #gf #df staples you’ll find me whipping up in my tiny kitchen. All are incredibly simple.

1. Cabbage Sauerkraut Soup

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If you’ve associated cabbage and sauerkraut with Slovak cuisine, you’re correct! All of my Slovak recipes hinge off of cabbage. Here I’ve simmered cabbage, sauerkraut, chicken stock, diced tomatoes, pork shoulder, and mushrooms in the slow cooker for about six hours. I pack it up in Tupperwares, and it’s my lunch at school for a week. Everyone in the faculty room always asks, “What’s that smell?” It’s the smell of cabbage and all its glorious health properties!

2. Pork Roast with Sauerkraut and Kielbasa

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Paprika and black pepper play starring roles in this roast. There’s no need to add salt, since the kielbasa is very salty to begin with. This goes great with potatoes and onions roasted on the side. My grandfather (age 95 currently) would surely butter up some rye bread on the side of this dish, while in summertime the Slovak women in my family would prepare their staple side dish without fail— cold cucumber salad with white vinegar. I’ve always loved sour foods, and I suppose it can all be attributed to my upbringing on these Slovak foods.

3. Kielbasa and Potato Soup

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This is what you do with the leftovers from the pork roast. However, I hardly ever have any sauerkraut left over, since I tend to eat that by the spoonful. Take any leftovers from your roast, and thicken it up with potatoes; add chicken broth. This can be done quickly on the stove since the meat is already cooked, or it can go in the slow cooker, too.

4. Slovak Stuffed Cabbage

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No “best of” Slovak cooking list is complete without the Big Kahuna, better known as the Slovak Stuffed Cabbage. In fact, stuffed cabbage is such a big deal for Slovaks that this dish is going to have its own separate upcoming blog post within the next week. Ultimately my painstaking preparation of these recipes serves to celebrate the memory of my Slovak Baba, who is no longer with us. A very opinionated woman in the kitchen (rightly so), she probably would not agree with my preparation methods, as I am sure they are hardly traditional. Unfortunately I failed to get proper recipes from her; I just assumed she would live forever, and I wasn’t at all interested in cooking when she was around, because after all, who needs to learn to cook when you have the Slovak Julia Child in the kitchen? Well there you have it—inspiration from Baba with my own interpretation. Enjoy! And don’t forget to be generous with the ubiquitous Slovak spice— paprika! Happy cooking!

 

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6 Comments on “My Top 4 Slovak Smorgasbord Standbys”

  1. Bulldog Travels February 22, 2015 at 22:01 #

    You are making me hungry! Lovely post!

    • Marisa LaValette February 22, 2015 at 22:10 #

      I made enough to last all week! I’m so excited. Thanks for reading! Your blog is so pretty, too.

  2. Karen February 23, 2015 at 14:38 #

    Awesome post!!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Slovak Stuffed Cabbage Recipe | SavvyCitiZen - February 27, 2015

    […] week when I wrote this post about my favorite Slovak foods, my aunt expressed her consternation on my Facebook page. She couldn’t believe that I would […]

  2. Fun with Fermentation! | SavvyCitiZen - October 9, 2015

    […] a brand new interest of mine. It’s not. You’ve seen over the past years my devotion to making cabbage soup in the crock pot and roasting sauerkrat in the oven with kielbasa. Being 50% Slovak (aka Eastern European) makes me a de facto expert on cabbage. But when I stopped […]

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