Czech Out Peas and Barley!

Czech it out is a silly expression we used as college students on our first visit to Czechoslovakia.  I couldn’t resist the title. Seriously, one should check out Czech food. Czech food is not something I cook very often although I like Czech food. Part of the reason for that is there are very few Czech cookbooks, few Czech restaurants in this country, and fewer Czechs. It’s not a big country and since it split from Slovakia even smaller. The Czechoslovakia I first visited in 1977 when it was an Iron Curtain country under the stifling Communist government did not offer the very few tourists in Prague very much when it came to restaurant eating. On the second visit in 2006, what another story! Prague was a magical, vibrant, beautiful, and welcoming city and our mid-January visit made all that food taste even better. One dish I recently made and thought highly of was hrách a kroupy, peas with barley. This easily prepared dish is from Joza Břízová’s The Czechoslovak Cookbook published in 1965. There is not much guidance in the original recipe, so I’ve adapted it to fit here. Serve with boiled smoked meat and pickles.

Czech Peas and Barley
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Vegetable
Cuisine: Czech
Serves: 6 servings
  • 10 slices bacon (about ½ pound)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • ¼ cup pork lard
  1. In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crispy then remove and crumble or chop. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. In the bacon fat cook the onion, stirring, until soft and translucent. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the split peas in lightly salted boiling water until tender but not falling apart, about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. At the same time, bring 2½ cup of lightly salted water to a boil then cook the barley over low heat until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  4. In a saucepan, melt the lard over medium heat then stir in the peas and barley and cook about 3 minutes until they are heated through. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle the onions and bacon on top and serve.



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