Smolensk vereshchaka: Old-Russian style pork ribs (RECIPE)

An odd food name that will entice meat-lovers.

An odd food name that will entice meat-lovers.

Legion Media
This ancient dish acquired its bizarre name thanks to a specific sound given off while cooking. Let’s try to make it!

The basis of the dish is pork ribs marinated in kvass, brine or beer, which makes the meat tender and sour. The truth is that this is an old dish, and the word "vereshchaka" doesn’t ring a bell in the minds of contemporary Russians.  

Vereshchaka in old times could be called almost any dish cooked in a hot frying pan, and, which therefore, made specific sounds: the hissing sizzle of deep-frying food. In some places people called fried eggs vereshchaka, while somewhere else it was fried potatoes.  

Ethnographers describe the dish as lard fried in oil, seasoned with onions and thick sauce. There is quite a lot of information to prove that vereshchaka was very popular in the western provinces of Russia. 

In the Smolensk Region (on the border with Belarus), this dish was prepared from pork ribs marinated in kvass (a mildly alcoholic drink made from fermented rye bread, yeast or berries), beer or brine, though more often in beetroot, but sometimes in cabbage and even cucumber. After cooking, the dish would be served with stewed cabbage that has cloves and cumin added.  

The roasted, salted, boiled and stewed components peacefully coexist in the Smolensk version of vereshchaka that contains both meat and vegetables. This was not an ordinary dish. Usually for an average family it meant an important occasion - such as a solemn holiday or a period of grief. The dish was commonly prepared for a large family gathering. 

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • Pork ribs - 1 kg
  • Large onions - 2 pc
  • Pork lard - 100-150 g
  • Bread - 100 g
  • Beer or kvass - 3 glasses 
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Bay leaf, cumin, some other spices to your taste
  • Cabbage - 1 kg  


1. Cut the pork lard into small pieces and put them in a hot frying pan.

2. Cut the pork ribs into medium-sized pieces, salt and also put in the frying pan. Keep frying the mixture for another 15-20 minutes.

3. After that, place the meat mixture in a big saucepan with a thick bottom. Put on medium heat again and continue frying.

4. Dice the onion and put it into the saucepan.

5. Add 3 glasses of beer or kvass to the saucepan, mix well and let it stew for another 30 minutes.

6. Grate the bread and add it to the meat. Season the dish with cumin, bay leaf and pepper to your taste and let stew for another 10 minutes.

7. While the meat is stewing, make the side dish. Cut the cabbage into big round pieces. 

8. Place the cabbage slices on a baking sheet; then season with salt, pepper and cumin and bake it in the oven for another 20 minutes.

9. Your vereshchaka is ready. 

10. Enjoy the meal with friends and family!

READ MORE: How to cook a South Russian chestnut soup (RECIPE)

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