Today I wish to share traditional Czech and Slovak recipe, although I do not think it is exclusively ours or exclusively slavic. It is called “smaženice” in Czech and “praženica” in Slovak. Both of those names could be translated as a “fry up”, but in our language it is only this one meal and not a generic name. There might be some local variations to the recipe (in fact, I would be suprisede if there wer not), so this is not “the” version.
It is a very simple meal specific for this season, because it is best made from freshly collected mushrooms. I was personally not mushroom hunting this year, because it was too dry when I had the time. But one of my mothers friends brought us this Tuesday a basket of mushrooms as a payback for tomatoes, plums and walnuts we let her take from our garden.
In my opinion best species for this are blushers (Amanita rubescens), closely followed by various boletes that are not suitable for drying – like suede boletes, larch boletes, birch boletes etc. So I collected all of such species from the basket, cleaned them and cut them into a thumbnail sized chunks and I added then bay boletes and ceps until I had a overfilled soup-plate of such chunks. It looks like a lot, but it is only one, albeit generous, serving – the mushrooms will lose most of their water during the process. Now is also the time to add salt – sprinkle an “adequate” amount of it on the shrooms, stir and wait a while. You can also add other spices of your liking, I only add shredded cumin and black pepper.
After the chunks are cut and salted, it is time to start frying. That starts with an onion cut into cubes being fried at high temperature – the best fat for this meal is therefore lard, second best is butter, after that are the vegetarian options. I still had a chunk of lard from my dubbin-making experiment, so I have used lard. The onion is fried until it starts to look glassy, and just when some smaller chunks start to turn yellow, it is time to add the mushrooms. After stirring the mushrooms into the fried onion, put a lid on it and let it stew for at least twenty minutes, checking it and stirring every minute or so.
Both of those things are important. The time to make sure that the meal is really edible – even edible mushrooms can be slightly poisonous when raw and all are rather hard to digest when not cooked long enough. And the stirring of course to asses the situation and to mix things up. Sometimes it is necessary to add a bit of water during the process, sometimes even more than once. This time I could do without it and the mushrooms stewed very nicely. Towards the end I had to stir more often and for the last two minutes or so I took the lid off and stirred continuously so the mushrooms do not burn.
Maybe you can see now that the mushrooms have lost more than a half of their volume and they all turned into the same yellowish color. The color depends on used species – the yellowish was brought in by the yellow boletes (similar to larch boletes, but these were different species). Had I used dottet stem bolette, the mass would all be dark grey or even black like a boot polish. Had I used only blushers, it would be whiteish-pink-grey.
The final ingredients are eggs, two in this case, and a generous glass of non-alcoholic beverage of your preference. Why the beverage, you ask? To drink before the meal, during cooking. Do not underestimate this – this meal can lie rather heavy in the stomach and drinking after it a lot is not recommended, because it impedes its digestion. So it is recommended to drink generously before eating it, otherwise bad dreams might ensue. The eggs are simply stirred into the mass and fried until done. The meal is traditionally served with bread, but I had two whole-grain buns so I went with those this time – more photogenic. I enjoyed the meal and slept well afterwards.