#7 Date selected: 27/2/16 Date completed: 28/2/16
Country selected: Czech Republic
Dining Selection: Cooked Own
What was on the menu:
- Moravian Goulash
- Traditional Czech Bread Dumplings & Sauerkraut
Wondra Flour Substitute: http://www.food.com/recipe/wondra-instant-flour-substitute-438574
My first European challenge is the Czech Republic and I’m a little excited about it! I’ve been keen to try a bit more European cooking but I have no idea of what kinds of cuisine to expect from the Czech Republic.
It’s located in Central Europe bordered by Austria, Germany, Slovaki & Poland. In World War II, Czechoslovakia (as it was then known) was occupied by Germany. After the war most of the German-speaking inhabitants were forced out and as a result the country lost its bilingual character as well as a sizeable minority.
Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved on 1 January 1993 and became the independent states of the Czech Republic & Slovakia.
Unlike many of the countries I’ve encountered so far, the Czech Republic is not only highly developed, but ranks as the 10th most peaceful country in the world. The best result they have achieved in the Eurovision Song Contest is 13th out of their 4 appearances.
Apparently there is a strong emphasis on meat dishes in Czech cuisine, with pork, beef and chicken quite popular. Fish is rare though goose, duck, rabbit and wild game are often served. They are also very proud of their beer and it has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world (they even beat Australia who have slipped down to 11th place in the world rankings!). Pilsner style beer originated in the Western province of Bohemia. Sounds like I might need to source some local beer to try with whatever I might be cooking for this one!
Sunday 28th February 2016, 9.32pm
After doing a bit of recipe hunting online I was quite keen to try the traditional Czech roast pork. Unfortunately it seems that the oven is now out of action until the door can be fixed. It’s throwing too much heat out and we’ve deemed it unsafe. For the time being I’m restricted to the hotplates, grill and/or BBQ for my cooking and I’m not sure I could have pulled off the roast pork on the BBQ!
Instead I settled on a pork goulash from the south eastern province of Moravia. Most of the goulashes that I looked at were beef-based but I have had a fair few beef dishes lately and was keen to mix it up a bit.
The recipe is fairly simple and the meat comes out tender and with plenty of flavour. I was expecting that maybe it would include some kind of paprika but the recipe I used didn’t call for any. It did, however call for Wondra flour. I have no idea what Wondra flour is! Even after a bit of googling I’m still not sure you can get some in Australia. I did read that you can use White Wings gravy flour, however instead I chose to try this instead: http://www.food.com/recipe/wondra-instant-flour-substitute-438574
I did end up having to add a little extra flour/water mix when I got up to thickening the goulash. I’m not sure if it was because of the substitute or because of the amount of water that I simmered the meat in (I think I might have used a bit too much). Either way, the extra flour did the trick and the goulash thickened sufficiently.
Apparently bread dumplings (houskový knedlík) are a big thing in the Czech Republic and I noticed that almost every recipe I looked at in my search mentioned them as a good side dish. I decided that I should give them a go.
From what I gather, there are an array of different methods and recipes used for the dumplings. I had actually selected another recipe than the one I used, however it called for the dumplings to be wrapped in cloth before boiling. I thought we had some around the house but apparently I was mistaken. Instead, a quick search provided me with another traditional recipe sans cloth.
It’s difficult to tell how close to the ‘real deal’ my end result was. I’ve never seen or tasted these before. I suspect if I were to get a native Czech to make them for me, they would probably have been a bit lighter than mine were. I took them out of the pot a little after the 10 minute mark and they seemed ok. The ends were definitely heavier than the middle however and I get the feeling there might be a bit of an art to getting the right consistency.
The outer part of the dumplings were quite gelatinous when they first came out of the pot but they dried up quite nicely after a short period of time. They’re not the prettiest things to look at. To be honest (and a little crude) they did look a little like giant white turds floating in the water, but please don’t let that put you off trying them! They were very good at mopping up the gravy from the goulash and look quite different when sliced and served. I also tried a couple of the leftovers topped with honey and whipped cream for dessert and they were quite tasty.
With so many meat dishes lately, I decided that I would steam a few dutch carrots to have with the meal. I also added sauerkraut and had a Czech Pilsner beer to top it all off. Delicious!
And now to tick the Czech Republic off my list and pick the next challenge……
Time to get a little tropical!