Smukávc (Cabbage and potatoes stew)

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Out of resourcefulness, which was necessary, and the struggle for survival many modest dishes were created in the Cerkno region in numerous variants and combinations with fruit, vegetables, legumes, and grains. Their preparation was simple and at the beginning of the previous century still made without domestic appliances. One of the distinctive dishes of the region of Idrija and Cerkno is smukávc.

Smukávc is a dish made of various seasonal vegetables: cabbage, chicory, savoy cabbage, spinach, turnip leaves, even nettles. As a stew soup or as a side dish it makes its appearance on the table from spring to autumn and is still a common everyday dish here. We can make it thinner as a main dish (soup) or thicker as a side dish to meat.

One of the interpretations says that the dish got its name after the way it is prepared, since the cabbage leaves need to be stripped off (Slov. osmukati).

As a culinary heritage of the local area it should be on the menu of all catering establishments in the region during the season. Hotel Cerkno organized the fifth competition in the making of the best Cerkno smukávc this year. This competition is certainly a step towards the greater recognizability of the dish and the care for its preservation.

Slovenes know several variants of this dish. In the Idrija and Cerkno regions we both make smukávc, but – jokingly said – in Idrija they eat it with a spoon and in Cerkno sometimes also with a fork because of its thickness. In the Gorenjska region they make a dish similar to smukávc, which is called govnáč or présnek and can also be an independent dish or a side dish to cooked beef or roast meat.

Smukávc is often mentioned in various sources. In them there are also some interesting facts, such as

that the better savoy cabbage, which used to be planted among the corn in the Cerkno region, was also used to make smukávc and the less good was cooked for the pigs.

Source from the notes by Boris Orel field teams, which explored the Cerkno region in 1954

Smukávc is prepared in a different manner in every village. Every housewife has her own way of making it. It is difficult to say which is best. Definitely the one which tastes the most as we are used to.

What do we need

  • 1 kg cleaned cabbage leaves (even better are Savoy cabbage leaves)
  • 4 kg peeled potatoes
  • 6 garlic pods
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Minced lard or fat

This will be more than enough for 20 people.

How to make smukavc

Wash the cabbage or Savoy cabbage leaves, remove the mid rib and cut it into strips as you would for a salad. Then boil it in a larger pot. Add a bit of salt and cook for a little more than an hour. At the same time also cook the peeled potatoes chopped into cubes. Pour out the water leaving the cabbage and the potatoes in their pots. Then mash the cabbage and potatoes well, but separately, and then mix them together. Add only as much water that the mix still remains thick. Season it with sliced garlic, salt, and pepper. Do not forget to add the minced lard or fat, which you need to fry first. Smukavc is served warm. It is best to eat it with ocvirkovca (savory potica with cracklings) or a salty little potica.

It is of course necessary to cook it in a good mood and with love, because this really shows in the taste.

ENJOY YOUR MEAL!

Written by: Andreja Jereb and Marjeta Simonič, two cooks from the Lazec village, members of the society of traditional musicians DLG Stari meh Lazec (Lazec Old Bellows)