Doesn’t this picture look so pretty?!? I never really thought “pretty” would be the correct description for Gruenkern Stew, but here it is! I mean, this is the before shot, but it just shows you how uncomplicated the recipe truly is. As my German father-in-law, Morty, puts it, “German’s like to keep it simple and boring.” Well, this recipe is not boring but it is simple and delicious! Gruenkern is a green wheat kernel and I found it in my local kosher grocery store (Seasons on Central Avenue) after Morty and I had a conversation about the food he grew up eating. I’ve been trying to recreate those dishes, as you have seen on this blog already through the zwetschgenkuchen and spaetzle, and gruenkern was next on my list.
8.5 oz Gruenkern kernels (1 small package is 8.5 oz)
1 pound beef
1-2 large onions
1 large potato
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable or beef stock
I placed the gruenkern in a plastic container and poured enough water in to cover the kernels. I covered the container and left it on the counter to soak overnight.
I added enough water to cover all of the ingredients then boiled uncovered until it softened, about 1 1/2 hours. If you find that the water level is lowering in the pot, you can add more throughout the cooking process. Just note that you will need to add more salt and pepper since the water will dilute the mixture. You can also add beef or vegetable stock instead of water and that will add a lot of extra flavor. That’s what I did and I was very happy with the outcome.
After an hour, I tasted the stew and I felt like it needed a little something extra. I always love how potatoes taste in stews and it adds a good amount of starch to thicken the mixture, so the potatoes went in. I boiled the stew for another hour or so, until the potatoes were cooked through.
The stew was thick, flavorful and delicious. My father-in-law loved it! If you are passing through your local grocery store and find gruenkern on the shelf, buy it and make this stew! And hey, if you make cholent (a traditional Jewish stew) every Shabbos, I think gruenkern would be a fun twist. Go ahead and try it and let me know how it goes!