Yet another gorgeous winter stew that'll keep you full, happy, and plenty blessed.
I first had ričet when we went to Slovenia this year. We were going up to see Velika Planina, a place where recreations of old Alpine Slovenian life are there to check out as you hike up the valley: squat little huts low to the ground, cow pastures, so on and so forth. Slovenians, especially in the north, have quite the tradition of bringing cows up to pasture and making all kinds of wonderful goods there, like butter and cheese and whatever else, under the warm sun.
When we went, however, it was already a bit of a cloudy day. And then we quite literally got stuck in a cloud when it passed over the mountain, as we were pretty high up. Being on a ski lift while a cloud is passing over you is quite an experience, and I can say that they are not as soft and fluffy as they look when you see them in the sky or pass through them on a plane.
But while we were up there, we discovered the little mountain restaurant tucked away, too, where plenty of tourists were taking shelter from the blustery weather. We snuck ourselves into a corner with a couple other people and ordered plenty of food, as well as quite a few shots of brandy to warm up with, too. One of those dishes was ričet, a warm, thick stew full of smoked sausage and vegetables and soft barley. It reminded me something of Jota, yet meatier and obviously without the sour element of pickled cabbage.
I figured I'd try my hand at it, too, seeing as I'd just gone to the Polish market and gotten a beautiful cut of lean, smoked bacon, and it turns out that not only is this dish nutritious and delicious, but it's also got plenty of opportunities for magic, too—magic to strengthen and heal those you love, as well as build on the foundations of your relationships, be they romantic, familial, or platonic, and it's all thanks to the barley, celery, turnip, and bay leaves.
Magic in Ričet
Let's be honest with ourselves: comfort food is the ultimate food to put in front of your loved ones to let you know how much you care. Especially when it's not comfort food that sacrifices nutrition!
With all the vegetables in here, as well as the rich and savory meat, beans, and onions, the flavor alone is magical, but the ingredients I mentioned here actually also excel at bringing healing, strength, mental and psychic power, love, protection, and more. The turnip, too, wards away evil.
The heartiness of a stew like ričet really can't be understated, and with all the fire and earth coming through in the ingredients, as well as the optimistic Sun, the emotionally intuitive Moon, the romantic Venus, and the clear and communicative Mercury, you have a perfect blend of the energies that make any romantic relationship's foundation strong. This stew, full of nutritious vegetable and a rich, savory flavor, is absolutely the thing you plop down to wish health and love and care upon your significant other, or, in a less romantic context, on your friends & family.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 75 minutes
Makes 6-8 Servings
1 1/2 lbs lean bacon (not sliced breakfast bacon)
3-4 dry kielbasa sausages
1 lb dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
2 onions, 1 diced, 1 quartered
8 cloves garlic (4 whole for beans, 4 minced for stew)
4 bay leaves (2 for beans, 2 for stew)
4 medium carrots, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
1 turnip, peeled & fine diced
20 peppercorns or regular ground pepper
1 tsp tomato paste
400g hulled barley (about one small package)
Parsley for garnish
Salt to taste
Chop meat into cubes/slices and fry until fat is rendered, then set aside.
While meat cooks, peel & chop your vegetables, mince half your garlic.
Fry the diced onion in the rendered fat until translucent, then add minced garlic and fry until fragrant before adding all other vegetables and salt.
Steam your vegetables for 10 minutes, then add peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and tomato paste.
Add your meat back to the pot, then rinse your barley and add into the pot with 6-7 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour.
Once your soup is simmering, add beans with their water to a separate pot, adding water until it rests half an inch above the beans.
Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, and salt. Boil for 45 minutes, then add to your stew to finish cooking for another 15 minutes.
Serve with bread.
There's a labor of love that goes into this stew that makes it all the more powerful as a gift to your partner, friends, or family. It's not quite so involved as Jota, but I feel like it has a similar process, and it definitely has a similar cozy feel. Definitely try it out!