This recipe for bean and sauerkraut hotpot, known as jota (YOH-tah) in Slovenian, is adapted from "The Food and Cooking of Slovenia" by Janez Bogataj (Anness Publishing Ltd., 2008).
See Origin of Hotpots, below, after the directions to this recipe.
Pork is the meat of choice for the majority of Slovenes, especially in winter around pig-slaughtering time known as koline. Some form of pork goes into this dish and it is particularly tasty when the pork is smoked.
Bread and potatoes are other staple foods of Slovenia so, along with beans, they find their way into this filling, comfort-food dish that comes from the Primorska region near the Adriatic Sea.
Its sweet-sour flavor profile is typical of Eastern European foods. Some jotas are made with sour turnip known as kisla ripa in place of the sauerkraut. Serve with crusty bread and you have a meal guaranteed to chase the blues away, not to mention the chills!
Here is a larger photo of Slovenian Bean and Sauerkraut Hotpot or Jota.
- 2 cups kidney beans (soaked overnight in cold water)
- 8 ounces smoked pork spareribs or slab bacon (rind removed)
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 cups vegetable, pork or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 pound potatoes (peeled and diced)
- 1 pound sauerkraut (drained and rinsed)
- Dash salt and pepper
- Drain the soaked beans and place them in a large saucepan filled with cold water to cover by several inches. Bring to a boil and continue boiling briskly for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until beans are tender but not mushy. Drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, sauté the spareribs or bacon until the fat begins to render out. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until onion is golden, but not browned. Stir in stock, tomato paste, potatoes and sauerkraut. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes or until potatoes and sauerkraut are very tender and the mixture is thick.
- Remove pork, cut into bite-sized pieces and return to the saucepan along with the cooked beans and warm through, about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. Some cooks thicken their jota with a roux if it is too soupy. But this is a subjective matter and one person's idea of the proper thickness of a jota is definitely not another's. Serve it the way you like it.
Origin of Hotpots
Hotpots exist in every culture with the ingredients varying on what's available locally and seasonally. The English are famous for Lancanshire hotpot, known in other countries, including America, as hotchpotch, hodgepodge or stampot or hutspot in Dutch and hochepot in French.
These one-pot meals fall somewhere between a very thick soup and a hearty vegetable-and-meat stew, depending on the amount of liquid left in the end product.