Do you know what is Podvarak? Me neither! But when I met my friend Slobodan and proposed him to be the first guest of my cooking project, he introduced me into the world of the Serbian cuisine (honestly, I was not very familiar with it…) but I must say I was pleasantly surprised! Slobodan loves to cook and to eat as much as I do so when he dared me to cook Podvarak I knew I was going to cook something special in the Serbian culture.
Podvarak is a typical winter dish very popular in whole Serbia. Apparently, they use to cook it in this season when they prepare big amounts of cabbage: a common vegetable in Serbia quite useful to stand the cold.
The recipe itself is pretty easy, however in this case the complication was to find all the ingredients. Normally Slobodan uses smoked pork chops for this recipe. After trying at different shops, I finally found them!
With the sauerkraut was different. Slobodan told me off the record that they use whole fermented cabbages. At the supermarkets I only was finding it already chopped and fermented in glass jars. I visited some street markets and delicatessen shops also but I couldn´t find it. At the end I tried in a very small shop and I saw in a fridge behind some Turkish yogurts what I was looking for, there was the cabbage I needed! I was safe!
So now comes the recipe, at least as I understood it!
Sauerkraut: one head of cabbage
Smoked pork chops
- Chop some onions and cook them together with the bacon in a pan with some olive oil. When the onion and the bacon have a nice dark colour stop the heat and set it aside.
- Cut the sauerkraut in julienne strips and set it aside.
- Cut the pork chops in 3-4cm dices and set it aside too.
- Now start the FUN! In a clay pot you put a layer of sauerkraut, put on top a layer of bacon and onion and after that a layer of pork dices. Then smash some garlic cloves with some bay leaves. Repeat the process until the pot is full. It is important that the last lay is sauerkraut. Press the layers in order to compact the mix.
- Now put the result in the oven for 2h and 30min at 180º-190ºC.