Vepřo knedlo zelo is the national dish of the Central European country of Czechia, also known as the Czech Republic. The entree is made of pork loin roasted in onion and caraway gravy and served over sauerkraut with a side of the Czech stapled boiled bread dumplings called knedlíky. Vepřo knedlo zelo is a classic of Czech cuisine and a must-eat when traveling to the Central European country.
Vepřo knedlo zelo is a dish that is representative of typical of Czech cuisine, which is heavy on meats like pork, beef, and chicken. Czech cuisine is also known for pickled cabbage and other root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and onions, and also includes many breads, pastries, cakes, and dumplings. The dish also uses caraway seeds and onion as flavoring, which are common flavor profiles in Czech cuisine.
Vepřová pečeně, or roasted pork, with sauerkraut and dumplings, like that found in Czech vepřo knedlo zelo, is a very common dish enjoyed throughout many countries and cultures in Central Europe. In Bavaria, a similar dish of ham hocks, sauerkraut, and spätzle, known as Schweinshaxe und Leberkäse is a similar Bavarian baked pork dish that is formed into a mold with kraut on the side.
Kassler, a smoked pork loin found in the Northern German area of Lower Saxony, is also served similar to vepřo knedlo zelo with sauerkraut and knödel, the German version of the Czech boiled bread dumpling knedlíky. Other German and Austrian dishes similar to vepřo knedlo zelo are mecklenburger rippenbraten, which consists of a pork rib roasted in fruit and served with a dumpling and sauerkraut. Also, königsberger klopse is smoked meat served in a white sauce with red cabbage and a potato or bread dumpling. Schäufele is an entrée of pork shoulder braised in beer with sauerkraut or red cabbage and dumplings and in Austria, selchfleisch is a smoked pork loin served with cabbage or kraut and spätzle or knodle, or dumplings.
Vepřo knedlo zelo is a classic entrée to order in Prague and a variation on the dish can be found on most menus in restaurants and pubs throughout the country. Pickled and sour cabbage like sauerkraut and red cabbage are the most common vegetable accompaniments and are often flavored with sugar, caraway, and fruit juices. Knedlíky is a staple Czech boiled bread dumpling served on the side, and is perfect for dipping in the pork roasting sauce. At times, the pork will also be roasted with fruits, garlic, or other flavors for a twist on traditional flavors.
Roasted pork with sauerkraut is not only a typical dish of many Central European countries, it is also a traditional entrée eaten to bring good luck in the new year. Variations of the dish are consumed on New Year’s Day throughout Europe and in areas of the world where Germanic and people of Slovak heritage have settled, such as Argentina, Brazil and the mid-Atlantic United States.
Vepřo knedlo zelo is made by slow roasting the boneless pork shoulder cut with onion or other vegetables flavored with caraway, salt, and pepper. A roasting pan is most commonly used in the Czech Republic, but a large cast iron skillet is also preferred as searing the meat before roasting brings out a richer and deeper meat flavor. The pork is covered and slow roasted for hours, and then a gravy is made from the juices left in the roasting pan. Sauerkraut is cooked with caraway and sugar and served with the meat and juices on top. Knedlíky are made by boiling dumpling loaves and slicing before serving on the side for dipping.
Vepřo knedlo zelo is a delicious and hearty dish enjoyed by many cultures throughout Europe, but is the heart of Czech cuisine. We hope you enjoy the roasted pork entree and let us know your variations!
This recipe is validated by our culinary expert in Czech cuisine, Kristyna Koutna. You can find Kristyna on her food blog CzechCookbook.com.
- 3 lb boneless pork shoulder , cut in individual size portions
- 1 onion , diced
- 4 cloves garlic , thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups quick-mixing or instant flour
- 1 cup milk , warm
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 quart sauerkraut , drained
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 5 cups water
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Season pork with salt, pepper and caraway seeds.
- Heat a cast iron pan with the oil. When oil is hot, sauté onion in pan for about 8 minutes or until light golden.
- Push onion to the side and add pork roast. Brown the pork roast on all sides.
- Add 1 cup of water and scrape the pan.
- Cover the pan with a lid or tin foil. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for 2 hours.
- Turn meat over every 30 minutes.
- At the end of the cooking, remove the lid (or tin foil), increase temperature to 400 F and bake for another 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Remove the pork roast from the pan and place on a plate covered with tin foil.
- Place the pot back on the stove, and add ½ cup of water to the drippings. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pot.
- Add flour mixed in 4 tablespoons of water and add to the drippings. Cook for 5 minutes to make a gravy.
- Serve pork roast in a plate with a couple sliced of dumpling, the cooked sauerkraut, and the gravy on top.
- Combine the sugar, the yeast, and the milk. Whisk and set aside for about 10 minutes or until it is foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, the egg, the salt. Add the yeast mixture and knead until the dough detaches from the edges of the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it rise for 2 hours, in a warm area away from drafts.
- Dust the work surface with flour and form the dough into 3 loaves.
- In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Carefully place the dumplings in the pot.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 20 minutes, turning the dumpling half way through the cooking. You need to maintain a rolling boil throughout the cooking.
- Take the dumpling out of the pot. Poke the dumpling in a few places with a fork to let the steam out.
- Slice the dumplings delicately with a sewing thread, a dental floss, or a serrated knife. Slices should be about ¾ inch thick.
- In a pot, add the drained sauerkraut, water, sugar, caraway seeds, and salt. Bring to boil then reduce the heat to low. Simmer covered for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, in a saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion. Sauté while stirring regularly for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Add the flour. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the flour and onion mixture to the pot with sauerkraut. Cook on medium for a few minutes while stirring.