Thursday 21 November 2013

Polish sauerkraut and wild mushroom stew with pearl barley

Perhaps it's my grandma's recent departing or perhaps it's that I'm working on a book on this very subject, but Polish food is playing the leading role in my life right now. This is a reworking of a classic vegetarian sauerkraut stew, which we would traditionally eat on Christmas Eve (as part of the 13 non-meat dishes). Today, I experimented with adding pearl barley and the result was stunning! This is an innovation I will be propagating henceforth. I think it may catch on, because it makes this dish into something quite special, more balanced, giving it a risotto-like consistency and the strong flavours something to sink into
Those up there are the mushrooms picked this Autumn by my uncle Kazik, which were soaked in cold water, washed under running water and then  re-hydrated in hot, boiled water overnight. Make sure you reserve the water, as it's one of our essential components. Brown the onion on a medium heat in the oil, then add the sauerkraut, the mushroom water and the prunes. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for approximately an hour. After about 20min add the wild mushrooms. Meanwhile, fry the other mushrooms on a separate pan in the butter. After about 5 min, add the marjoram. Once they are nicely browned, toss them into the main pan and continue cooking along with the rest of the stew. In another pan, cook the pearl barley in some vegetable stock. We use the beer to add moisture while your stew is cooking. Near the end of the cooking time, add the beans and pearl barley, season to taste with soya sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. That down there makes enough for 5-6 portions, yet all the measurements are approximations so feel feel to add and subtract to your own taste. Remember to make more than you need, as it tastes even better the next day


1 jar sauerkraut
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tin butter beans, drained
250g pearl barley
Handful dried wild mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped
Handful closed cup mushrooms, chopped
Prunes, pitted and chopped
Beer – half a pint
2 tablespoons mild oil
1 teaspoon marjoram, or more
2 teaspoons ground flaxseed (optional)
100g butter
Soya sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

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