Green Stew from Konavle

Green Stew from Konavle

The “green stew” from Konavle (konavoska zelena menestra) is considered to be an original dish from the area of Dubrovnik. Historical records from the 15th century mention the dish as a speciality of the area of Konavle. During the winter season, a full pot of this dish would be made as a filling and nutritious meal that would feed a larger number of people. It provided a true feast at a time when fresh vegetables and meat were scarce.

 

Several types of dried meat are used to make the green stew, as well as green cabbage (known locally as raštanj), white or head cabbage, potatoes and kale. Whatever was at hand would find its way to this dried-meat stew – ribs, shank, pig head, dried mutton or kaštradina, pancetta, Dalmatian prosciutto or the bone from it, and sometimes even a sausage or two. Some pieces of dried meat would be soaked in tepid water the day before cooking if needed, so as to eliminate excess salt. In fact, the menestra often needed no additional seasoning because of the saltiness of the meat.

 

The meat would be thoroughly washed the next day and simmered in a big pot of hot water. If necessary, the more tender pieces would be taken out first, followed by tougher sections, in order to prevent the meat from falling apart. When the meat was done and taken out of the pot, thick pieces of green and white cabbage and kale would be added to boil briefly in the salted water. The contents would not be stirred, but rather only lightly pressed to submerge the cabbage, taking care not to overcook and break up the vegetables. Peeled and washed potatoes would then be thrown into the pot, as well as lard, to further accentuate the taste of meat in this unique dish.

 

Konavoska zelena menestra would always be left to sit for a while before being served. When it was time to sit at the table and eat, special attention would be paid so that each plate had equal amounts of different meats and cooked vegetables. The final touch was freshly grated horseradish added directly onto the plate, whose strong aroma would perfectly complement the salty meat and cooked vegetables.