OMI’S SCHMORGURKEN – CUCUMBER-APPLE-TOMATO STEW WITH GROUND MEAT & DILL

Schmorgurken (stewed cucumbers) is a traditional German dish that originated in East Prussia (now Russia). It sounds quite odd and probably not very appealing for people who never had it – a stew of cucumbers, apples, tomatoes, and Hamburger meat – but I assure you, it tastes very good (and there’s bacon in it!)

My mother’s family came from Pommerania. The cuisine of East Prussia (now Russia), and Pommerania (now Poland) was hearty and not overly refined (people were poor), but tasty and satisfying. Dishes like Schmorgurken, Dicke Bohnen mit Hack (Lima beans with ground meat), and Heringssalat (herring salad) were served in our family, too.

My Omi

My Omi was the nicest grandmother I can imagine. Fleeing with her youngest children from the Russian occupation of Stettin, she came to Hamburg where two daughters already lived, and took care of a grandchild that refused to be weaned, and spit out any solid food she was fed.

She was a very good cook, and when I was older (and more appreciative of solid food), she taught me how to cook scrambled eggs, prepare drip coffee (never forget the pinch of salt!) and bake Christmas cookies.

Fortunately, I asked her to write down some of my favorite recipes, and this is one:

OMI’S SCHMORGURKEN

4 Servings

85 g/3 oz bacon (about 3 slices), cubed
2 tsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled, chopped
200 g/7 oz mixed ground meat (Hamburger or meatloaf mixture)
salt and black pepper, to taste
500 g/ 17.6 oz pickling cucumbers*), peeled
3/4 medium apple, halved, cored, cut in chunks
400 g/14 oz fresh or canned whole tomatoes, puréed
150 ml/5 fl. oz vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. balsamico vinegar
2-3 tbsp chopped dill, for serving
30 g/1 oz/1/4 cup sour cream, or more, for serving

*) don’t use English cucumbers, they have too many seeds and are too watery

Apple, cucumber, onion and bacon for Schmorgurken

Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise. Using teaspoon, remove seeds. Cut cucumber halves in 1/2-inch/1-cm chunks. Set aside.

In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until rendered and crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to small bowl, and set aside.

After rendering the bacon, cook onions and meat

Add onions to skillet, and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add ground meat, and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until browned, about 7-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook until cucumber are softened

Add cucumbers and apple and cook for 3 – 5 minutes. Stir in tomato purée and broth. Reduce heat to low, and cook until cucumbers are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Season cucumber stew with sugar and vinegar, and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Off the heat, add sour cream and dill

Stir in sour cream and dill to taste.

Traditionally, Schmorgurken are served with potatoes.

Guten Appetit!

14 thoughts on “OMI’S SCHMORGURKEN – CUCUMBER-APPLE-TOMATO STEW WITH GROUND MEAT & DILL

  1. A Sunday ‘hello’ from far away Australia where over 70% of my diet consists of Asian fusion dishes ! BUT, I was born in Estonia and what you are describing belongs ‘back home’ !! And since my background was kind’of ‘Baltic Baronial’ guess how close I feel to this recipe !!? Absolutely nought strange ! Just somewhat brought up to date !!! Shall copy for sure and get back to you.And if you travel further north and east you can even use pickled cucumbers most delightfully in a favourite recipe of mine – the Russian veal kidney and pickled cucumber soup . . . probably the best in the world . . . Glad I have found your posts . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen : same here to a large degree. Some of the offal can even be fund amongst the dog food items 🙂 ! But most of us are going back more and more to our corner butchers as nose-to-tail eating is becoming very popular. There are also an increasing number of organic on line butchers who often offer offal packs. Horses for courses !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m just trying to put together a little book with family or friends’ recipes. Since I’m stuck at home and not visiting any of them, thanks to Covid-19, this is a good entertainment. Otherwise I’m in danger of baking too many comforting cookies 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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