A Very Czech Thanksgiving

By: Erica Wery

Thanksgiving is an American holiday, and when people imagine Thanksgiving, they most often times picture the Martha Stewart style table spread of turkey, cranberries, stuffing, etc.

While other countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia do not celebrate Thanksgiving, they still have many delicious seasonal autumn dishes, many of which can be substituted in to your own Thanksgiving celebration this year.

I was lucky enough to grow up with a 100% Czech grandmother, who would always make authentic Czech and Slovak dishes year round. Autumn and Winter were my favorite times of the year (meal wise), because it meant that she would be baking more, and making more hearty warm dishes (and she still does!)

I have chosen a few of my favorite recipes to share, and I hope you enjoy them as well!

Grandma Kurka’s Fruit Coffee Cake


1 C sugar

¼ lb butter

2 eggs

½  C milk

2 C flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1-2 C fresh peaches (chopped), apples (peeled and chopped), cherries or blueberries (or a mixture of several fruits.)


Crumble topping:

1 C sugar

⅛ lb butter

½ C flour


Crumble Topping Directions:

Cream together butter, sugar and flour with a fork until dry lumps of varying sizes form.

Cake Directions:

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs and milk then beat well. Add the flour, baking powder and vanilla. Spread into well greased 9×13 cake pan. Top with fruit, then with topping. Bake at 350˚ until golden brown (45-50 minutes.)


Potato Dumplings

6 Medium potatoes, cooked and mashed

1 tsp salt

2 Eggs   

¼ to ⅓ C Cream of Wheat



Mix together thoroughly, then stir in 2 cups sifted flour. Sprinkle about ½ cup flour on board and knead well so dough will not be sticky. Shape into oblong roll and cook in salted boiling water about 20-25 minutes. Serves 6-8.


Sautéed Red Cabbage

1 Med. Head of Red Cabbage

About 6 slices of onion

2 tsp caraway seed

2 tsp salt

2 tsp vinegar



Put a tsp of oil in pan and heat. Chop cabbage and add with other ingredients. Saute over low heat stirring every so often (about 10min). Then add a ½ cup of water and cover. Cook over low heat until reduced and cooked down (about 30-40 min). Check to see if it needs more vinegar or sugar (add to taste).  Check periodically to see if it needs more water. 


Sautéed Wild Pheasant                                           

My family loves game hunting, and we always have an abundance of wild Pheasant to eat in the fall and winter.  Not everyone is able or willing to go out and shoot a Pheasant, so store bought will work as well for this recipe. If it is frozen or thawed, treat it the same as chicken in regards to thawing and rinsing. (The following recipe has freshly shot Pheasant in mind, so it would need to be cleaned, gutted, defeathered, etc. in preparation.)


Clean Pheasant accordingly, then cut Pheasant meat into pieces, salt and roll in flour. Brown pieces in hot oil over a medium heat. When nicely browned, add ½ cup water to pan and cover. Cook about a half hour. Make sure you have enough water in the pan (for a gravy), then add the cabbage on top and cook another half hour. It should be done after this amount of time, but check a piece of meat to make sure.  Depending on how many are going to be eating, you can add multiple Pheasants accordingly.  When done, serve with sliced Potato Dumplings.

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