Even though the above recipe might sound quite German, I can assure you that it has nothing to do with the boring Sauerkraut – Knödel combo. It is a recipe made up by my mum and inspired by a Transylvanian cabbage dish. I made it first when living in Madrid I got hold of a piece of Hungarian smoked cheese, some sour cream and Sauerkraut. It had its debut on my very first Cena a la Húngara, my friends from Spain, Venezuela, Guatemala, China and last but not least, Hungary – loved it!
This dish became so popular that I have to prepare it from time to time for my friends, and also to strengthen my Hungarian identity. :P
On our pre-Christmas trip to Transylvania I fell in love with the beautiful artisan clay pots we found on every market. I wanted to have them all, but as I have my dear husband, who is good at pulling me back to the earth, we just returned with two of them.
These pots, similarly to the Moroccan tagine or the Mexican olla de barro, are famous for a traditional slow way of cooking, thus preserving more aroma. If you have any clay pot’s, you probably now that it’s sensitive to sudden changes of temperature. You might also want to soak the pot into water before using, so that it doesn’t extract water from the food.
TRANSYLVANIAN PLEATED SAUERKRAUT
- 1/2 kg sauerkraut (choose one without vinegar)
- 1 cup of barley or rice
- 300g (smoked) tofu
- 300g (smoked) cheese (optional)
- 3 dl of sour cream
- 1 big onion
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1-2 tbsp of powdered paprika (or 3 tbsp piros arany)
- salt, pepper
Preparation time: 2 hours
Secret ingredients: paprika powder from my grandmother and Hungarian smoked cheese
I will tell you the truth. I was a bit lazy to investigate how much time and water it needs to cook the above dish in a clay pot. So I cheated! (Ups). I parboiled everything and then let it wobble for another hour in the oven.
Cut the onions and saute it in oil. When it’s transparent, add the powdered paprika and some pepper. You might also use some chilli powder if you like it hot. Quickly add 1/2 cup of water as well, as the paprika turns bitter very fast. Then add the Sauerkraut and stew until it becomes soft. Watch out, as Sauerkraut is pretty salty in itself, you do not need to add a lot of salt. Add pressed garlic at the end.
Boil barley with some salt. You may also use rice. Chop or just tear tofu into smaller parts.
And now put it all together. I sometimes just mix it all and put it into a baking pan. Or one can layer it nicely: one thin layer barley, then one layer sauerkraut, and some smoked tofu, then again barley, sauerkraut… Put it into the oven and give it about an hour so that the flavours mix properly.
Finally, top it with some sour cream and/or smoked cheese and put it back to the oven for another 10 minutes, without the lid.
And voilá, ready it is, the perfect comfort food for the cold months! Serve with some bread and pickles. If it’s too much, don’t worry, it’s one of those dishes that are even better the following day.