What Is Podvarak (Serbian Baked Sauerkraut) and How to Make It?

June 12, 2019

The Serbian cuisine is full of delicious comfort food specialties, and while trying them all should definitely be on your bucket list, one particular dish stands out for being the very best in providing that heartwarming and nostalgic feel. Yes, we’re talking about podvarak, better known as Serbian baked sauerkraut.

During cold winter days, nothing quite hits the spot like a plate of hot and delicious podvarak. It’s considered by many to be the absolute king of comfort food, and today we’re going to tell you how to make it so that you, your family, and your guests can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home.

What Makes Baked Sauerkraut so Great?

Podvarak, a.k.a. Serbian baked sauerkraut is a dish that perfectly embodies the feeling of joy and happiness that only a few other dishes can replicate. This nourishing and delicious specialty is made from previously fermented cabbage mixed with some kind of juicy meat. Roasted pork usually works or smoked turkey, but chicken can be just as good.

The fermented cabbage and meat are then thrown in a preheated oven and baked until they come out golden brown and caramelized. The best part about podvarak is that it tastes even better the day after you make it. Similar to Sarma, you can refrigerate and reheat it for another day.

The Best Podvarak Recipe

Words can’t describe how much we love podvarak, so we’re going to show you how to make it. You’ll need the following ingredients for this recipe:

  • 1 jar of fermented sauerkraut
  • 2 tablespoons of pork lard
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 carrot sliced
  • 5 ounces of bacon cut into small pieces
  • 1 pound of smoked turkey or pork
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves

Start by preheating the oven to about 375 degrees; take the sauerkraut out of the jar and into a colander. The goal is to drain as much liquid as possible before transferring it to a large skillet.

Heat up the skillet over medium heat and add the pork lard. Once the fat has melted, you can add the small pieces of bacon together with chopped onion. Sauté until the chopped onion goes from translucent to a golden brown. Add the sliced carrot, minced garlic, sweet paprika, pepper, bay leaves, and mix it all up. Continue occasionally stirring the mixture for the next 15-20 minutes.

Once that’s done, place the mixture in a baking dish, and add the meat on top of it. Pour over a cup of water and cover it all up with aluminum foil. Put it in the oven for an hour, then take the foil off and put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Voila! Serve your tasty podvarak with a side of mashed potatoes or cooked rice.

We hope you get to try this mouthwatering baked sauerkraut recipe and tell us all about it in the comments below. Also, be sure to check out other recipes (that are just as delicious) by browsing through our blog section.

For an authentic taste of Mediterranean and Balkan-inspired dishes, stop by Rakija Lounge, and you definitely won’t be disappointed. Not in the mood for food? We also serve tasty cocktails together with original Serbian brandy.

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