Expats.cz Team members share the best recipes for you to try over the weekend.
“After thinking about what I would prepare, I thought that for a change, I would give you an old Czech food recipe that has been passed on for generations. This particular variation of this unique grain-based dish originates from Pacov in the South Bohemia Region. Traditions often dictated a fasting period throughout Christmas day (December 24th in Czech Republic). Children were told to wait so that they would be lucky enough to see the golden piglet at night. Within many families including ours, an exception was made at Christmas Day lunch in the form of meat-free, grain-based food. It was a cheap and simple food eaten throughout the year and offered a tasty alternative to many poorer families. Grain was readily available and mushrooms were dried and stored away in cloth bags for the rest of the year. In my family and many others, the Kuba dish became an essential component of the Christmas Day.”
Soaking overnight, then 20 minutes
Mushrooms are a key ingredient of many Czech foods, including potato pancakes, potato soups and for the Kuba dish, which I will now tell you how to prepare. There are only a few key ingredients you will need and all are available in shops at a very low cost, that is if you managed to collect some mushrooms (or know a Czech who did), have garlic, marjoram herb, salt and lard.
- Barley without husk (cz: ječné kroupy) (available in normal food shops, usually in one 1 kg packs, preferably labeled size “10”)
- Lard (preferably home rendered lard or could be purchased in the shops – oil/butter could be used as an alternative)
- Larger onion
- salt, pepper, marjoram herb
- Entire garlic mallet (Czech one if you can – it is strong and has a rich aroma)
- Dried mushrooms (Ideally boletus (cz: hřib pravý a hřib hnědý) mushrooms for their exquisite richness in taste)
You will also need a medium sized roasting pan (enameled or Teflon-coated – for best results)
1. Dip the dried mushrooms in cold water overnight – they will absorb the water. Also overnight, dip approximately 500 Grams (1/2 of the usual pack) of the barley groats into water. This should be done in a larger container since they increase in size considerably when absorbing water.
2. In the morning, take the mushrooms, salt them lightly and cook them for about 5 minutes – then pour out the water and keep the mushrooms separate ensuring they do not start drying up. Now, take the barley groats and start cooking them. They love to overflow from the pot, so please watch it. They will further enlarge themselves two-fold or three-fold. To get it right, test their hardness. They should not be hard or too soft. I guess the Italians would call it “al dente.” When they are just right, pour out the water and wash the groats with cold water to remove any milky residue that tends to form.
3. Put the barley groats into a large bowl, add the moist mushrooms, salt it, add pepper and a handful of marjoram (grind before adding for superior taste). We then use pieces from the entire garlic mallet and skim it, mixing all the ingredients together thoroughly.
4. On a separate frying pan, melt 2-3 larger spoonfuls of lard and fry lightly cut onion pieces on it until they soften up and acquire a glassy look to them. Also mix this together with the rest.
5. Finally, use the lard to lightly spread it across the medium-sized roasting pan. This will prevent the food from sticking to the sides while baking it. Empty the contents of the mixed bowl into the roasting pan, ensuring that you have a layer of approximately 5 cm. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 180 Celsius. Take out and serve hot.