Traditional Croatian Recipes: Jota

By 11 February 2019

February 10, 2019 — One of coastal Croatia's favorite winter warmers, jota is a traditional stew made with sauerkraut and/or sour turnip, kidney beans, potatoes, pork sausages, and often a variety of smoke-cured pork meat like belly, ribs, shanks, or trotters.

This hearty stew is typically flavored with onion and laurel leaves, though some add even marjoram or thyme, while most of its rich flavor comes from the so-called pešt or zaseka; a mash of bacon fat, garlic, and parsley.

Jota is a staple in Croatia's northwest and an easy beginner friendly one-pot dish which you will have no problem making. Here is the basic recipe:

1 onion, diced
200 g beans*
500 g sauerkraut or sour turnip, finely shredded
200 g dried pork meat or sausages
2-3 potatoes
4-5 laurel leaves
3-4 tbsp pešt/zaseka
3-4 tbsp olive oil or lard
salt and paprika; to taste
1 tsp peppercorns

1) In a large stockpot or Dutch oven heat oil or lard over medium-high heat until hot. Add chopped onion and sautée for about 5 minutes or until tender, golden-brown.

2) Try your sauerkraut (and/or sour turnip), and if you find it to be too tart, rinse it with water before you add it to the pot.

3) Then, add laurel leaves, sweet paprika, salt, and peppercorns. Add dried pork meat and beans. Cover with water and continue cooking on medium heat, half-covered.

4) After about 45 minutes of cooking, add cubed potatoes and pešt/zaseka. The latter will add not only thickness to your stew but also an incomparable richness of taste.

Lastly, stir well and let everything simmer together for another 30 minutes. Your jota is finished when the potatoes are cooked.

Dobar tek!

*Beans: if you're using dried beans, you will need to start making your jota the day before because they need to be soaked in cold water for at least 12 hours before they can be cooked. Alternatively, you can use canned beans and simply add them halfway through cooking time.

Stay tuned for more recipes by following TCN's gourmet page.