A favourite Czech meal that I had growing up visiting my Czech grandparents was roast duck with bread dumplings and red cabbage. You have not enjoyed a great Czech meal until you have this combination. It is often served as a Christmas dinner. It is a classic delicious Czech meal.
To make your red cabbage, begin by slicing 1 medium red cabbage. Make sure it has been washed before you shred it very finely. In a deep cast iron frying pan, I first add a few pieces of bacon. Next I add my shredded red cabbage, along with caraway seeds, salt and pepper. After it is cooked on a low heat for 30 minutes, add half a cup of red wine vinegar. Cook another 15 minutes, or until the cabbage is soft. I was fortunate that my grandparents had a huge farm, thus, fresh cabbage. Make sure you wash off the outer leaves before shredding.
To make your duck, begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. Wash your duck inside and out, then pat dry with paper towels. Prick the skin all over with a fork, then rub the bird with salt and pepper. If you like, rub with minced garlic and caraway seeds. Place your duck on a rack in a large roasting pan. My pan has a V – shaped rack, so that I can place it above the bottom and the duck grease can drip onto the bottom of the pan when roasting. Pour half a cup of the red wine vinegar over your duck.
If you like, you can place the red cabbage on the bottom of the pan, underneath the duck. However, although you will end up with a very tasty duck, you will also end up with a very greasy red cabbage dish. I prefer to empty out the duck fat every twenty minutes and save it for future cooking.
Reduce your oven temperature to 350 degrees F. after fifteen minutes, then let your duck roast for 2 hours. Make sure you empty the duck fat, if you don’t have red cabbage baking underneath the duck, every twenty minutes.
Bread dumplings (houskove knedliky) are a traditional part of Czech cooking. My Czech grandfather made them every time we ate roast duck. They are made of flour and cubed bread. Depending on the type of flour you use, will make them light and fluffy or not.
From my Czech recipe notes, here are the ingredients for bread dumplings:
3 cups white flour
3 cups semolina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 whole egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 loaf French bread, cubed
Mix the flour, semolina, and baking powder together. Next, add your egg along with your salt and milk. Gradually stir everything together to finish by working it into a dough. Make sure you add the cubed French bread before you are finished. Roll it into four large balls.
Once you have a large pot of boiling water (you can add salt if you wish), drop your bread balls. Let them cook for 12 minutes, then flip them over for another 12 minutes so that the entire dumpling is cooked. Once cooked, the dumplings are then removed from the water they are boiled in and sliced. Use a cutting board to slice them.
You might not have a Czech restaurant nearby to go to enjoy these delicious foods if you not want to cook. However, try finding a local Hungarian restaurant. You should be able to find as delicious meal! Your local Czech church might have a festival once or twice a year where you can buy bread dumplings and other Czech foods.
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