Monday, 17 October 2011

Schmorgurken (Braised Cucumbers)

This recipe is from Birgit in Berlin. I hope you'll enjoy the story that goes with this dish as much as the dish itself.

This is a family recipe exactly how my grandmother used to make them. There are hundreds of different variations, as each family has developed their own over the years. But my grandmother’s was special: Since I am a vegetarian she made it meat free for me.
A few years ago I returned from hospital after a gall bladder operation and whined to my grandma that just that day they were going to have braised cucumbers at the hospital, and that I missed having my favourite dish. So she came over, bags full of goodies and cooked me braised cucumbers. That day I watched her closely and wrote everything down.
For this dish you best use garden cucumbers, these are the fatter, yellow-green type of cucumber rather than the green long things you usually get in a supermarket. If you can't get garden cucumbers, you can use normal ones too.

(serves 2)

500 g cucumbers
1 medium onion
½ red pepper
1 medium red tomato
Powdered vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel the cucumbers and halve lengthways. Deseed the cucumber with a teaspoon. This will produce quite a bit of juice, so put the seeds in an extra bowl and strain them keeping the juice. This way you don't have to add water to the cucumbers later which gives the dish a stronger taste. Quarter the cucumbers and cut them into thick slices (6-8 mm).
2. Cut half a pepper into very thin strips (2-3 mm). Quarter the pepper rings. Also slice the tomato very thinly. These slices will actually disappear in the stew, so you might want to peel the tomato first (pouring hot water over it makes the job easier) or pick out the tomato peel from the stew later.
3. Dice the onion and lightly sauté in butter or margarine until transparent. (You can also use olive oil, but butter tastes better).
4. Add the cucumber, pepper and tomato and stir for a couple of minutes. Pour in the cucumber-juice and two teaspoons of powdered vegetable stock, stir and leave to simmer on very low heat for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Serve with boiled potatoes.

If you want meat with your meal, a common variation is to put very small meatballs into the stew. In that case you don’t need the vegetable stock. You can also serve the meatballs separately.

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