Baked Meat with Cabbage (Pečené Mäso s Kapustou)

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Here is a recipe for an amazing dish that is actually quite easy to prepare. This is how my grandma likes to prepare mutton (baranina). I am definitely not a fan of mutton! Any doubts I might have had about liking sheep were definitely put to rest on my trip to Mongolia few years back. Yuck!

So I opted for pork – and ended up with the national dish of the Czech Republic. It’s vepřo, knedlo, zelo, which means, in Czech, pork, dumpling, cabbage.

The Slovak translation would be bravčové, knedľa, kapusta. See, Slovak and Czech languages can be very close sometimes, almost as if they were dialects of each other. But on many other occasions, the vocabulary is different enough to make it difficult for Slovaks and Czechs not exposed to the other language to understand each other. This actually seems to be getting more and more of a problem, as I often experience when visiting my cousins outside of Prague. The older guys have no problem understanding their Slovak part of the family. But my youngest cousin, who was born after the country split up, often gives us confusing looks. And it’s even worse with her friends. They look at us ako by sme boli Maďari (as if we were Hungarians, this is a common Slovak expression which means that somebody speaks in a way you can’t understand). The reason for all this is that during the Czechoslovakia days, TV stations played programs in both Slovak and Czech. Everyone was raised with exposure to both languages. However, after the split, this stopped being the case, especially in the Czech Republic. Slovak TV is too cheap/poor to dub movies from English to Slovak, so a good number of foreign films still get shown on Slovak TV in Czech. The opposite is not true in the Czech Republic. So even though quite a few young Slovaks still learn Czech simply from watching TV, this is not the case with the kids in the Czech Republic. I’ve heard somewhere that the Czech government is planning to start showing more Slovak programs to sustain bilingualism, but I have no idea if this is true or just rumors.

Anyway, enough history for one day, let’s start cooking! To make this dish, you will need dumplings, either the regular kind or the ones made from potato. Or both. This recipe comes from mimibazar and from Recepty Starej Mamy.

I made this dish with a 2lb piece of pork loin, but neck, shoulder and thigh meat is also commonly used (baked picnic is delicious!). Loin is the meat from the back of the pig, which is less fatty than the belly. By the way, if you want to learn more about the different types of pork, as well how a pig is butchered, check out this amazing guide to pork cuts on Amazing Ribs. The butchering videos at the bottom of the page are great.

Ingredients: 2 lbs of meat for roasting, 4 cloves of garlic, one medium onion, 2 strips bacon, salt, black pepper, caraway, head of red cabbage, side of dumplings, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons vinegar
Prep Time:2 hours

ingredients for vepro knedlo zelo meat stuffed with garlic
Turn the oven on to 450F. Rinse off the meat and make several slices into the meat. Stuff each with garlic (cesnak) – I used half a clove per slot. You can also stuff it with bacon (slanina). Coat with salt (soľ), pepper (čierne korenie), and caraway (rasca)

lard heating up in glass meat surrounded by onions
Melt bit of lard in a baking dish (or use little bit of oil). Add the meat along with an onion (cibuľa) sliced into rings, and 1/3 cup of water.

meat baking in glass pyrek dish
Cover and place in the oven. Turn the oven down to 350F and bake, covered, for one hour. In the mean time, prepare the dumplings and cabbage.

Cabbage and Dumplings

how to slice cabbage stewing cabbage
Remove the old outer leaves from the head of red cabbage (červená kapusta) and also remove the hard core. Cut it into two halves, and then cut each half into another half like shown. This makes it easy to cut it into strips that are not too long. Heat up two tablespoons of oil in a pot and add the cabbage. Also add a dash of salt, one teaspoon of caraway, and one 1/3 cup of water. Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

sugar added to cabbage steaming dumpling using a cloth placed over a pot
Check to see if the cabbage is done. Add sugar and vinegar, two teaspoons each. Finish cooking uncovered. But keep an eye on it. I actually ended up overcooking my cabbage and it got mushy. Also prepare the dumplings.

Back to the meat

turning the meat over removing onion and sauce
After the hour the meat has been baking, it’s time to turn it over. Carefully remove the baking dish out and, using a knife and a fork, flip the meat over. I had cut mine into two halves, which made this easier. Put the cover back on, and stick in the oven for another 30 minutes. Then remove the dish once again and take out the onion. Also spoon out 2/3 of the sauce into a mug. Place the glass baking dish back in the oven, but this time, keep it uncovered to roast the meat.

basting of pork baked pork
After 15 minutes of baking uncovered, baste the meat with the sauce in the mug. The mimibazar recipe said that basting with cool sauce helps the sauce penetrate more into the meat. Another 15 minutes, and it’s done.

Dinner is served!

baked pork dumpling cabbage knedlo vepro zelo
You should let the meat rest before cutting (I didn’t do this, I only found that article afterwards). Letting the meat rest will allow the fibers to reabsorb moisture, leaving you with a juicier cut of meat. Serve with dumplings (I used both kinds) and the cabbage. And of course, few spoonfuls of sauce over the dumplings and the meat. Dobrú chuť!