Winter warmer: Belarusian machanka

Once again, we return from an unintentional blogging hiatus. Rather embarrassingly, we made this dish on 3rd December and are only just getting around to writing about it now. There are all sorts of excuses, like the hecticness of the festive period (which also includes Miranda’s birthday), a long weekend in Marrakesh and some recent houseguests, but the fact that so much time has passed that we’ve almost forgotten ever making it is probably a pretty significant one! So for this blog entry, we’re going to do away with the usual tenuously-linked preamble and just give you the recipe for Belarusian machanka, or pork stew (found thanks to Where the Food Is, a fellow eat-around-the-world blogger). We’ll try harder in future.

Machanka

Ingredients
500g pork shoulder, diced
1 medium onion, diced
200ml sour cream
1/3 cup flour
5 bay leaves
1 tbsp olive oil (or lard if you want to be more traditional)
Generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup beef stock
2 cups water
Salt to taste
Dill, to serve (or chives or parsley if preferred)

Method
1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the pork in two or three batches until brown. Remove from the pan and place to rest on a paper towel.
2. Fry the onion over a medium heat in the same pan, adding a little more oil if necessary. When translucent, add the pork, bay leaves and one cup of water.
3. Add the flour to the other cup of water. (The original recipe said to ‘dissolve’ it, but flour obviously does not dissolve in water. What it made was a thick gluggy paste. This didn’t seem to have an adverse effect on the final dish.) Add this mixture to the saucepan and stir in as well as possible.
4. Simmer the stew over a low heat for 1-2 hours, until the pork is tender. Add more water if the mixture becomes too dry.
5. Add the sour cream and seasoning and simmer for a further half hour.
6. Top with dill and serve – traditionally with potato pancakes, but we just used rice (and a bit of leftover cabbage, always thinking about our five a day).
Serves 2

755a-browning-pork-compressed

757a-stewing-pork-compressed

758a-added-sour-cream-compressed

759a-machanka-compressed

This dish reminded us of a stroganoff and we both really enjoyed it, even Miranda, who isn’t normally one for creamy sauces – or pork! It was simple but effective, and the sour cream gave it a gentle punchiness (as did the dill). We probably wouldn’t rush to make it again, because it’s a bit richer than our usual style of eating, but we certainly wouldn’t refuse it.

Next up is Lithuania, hopefully served alongside a little more organisation and timeliness from us!

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