Moravský Vrabec – A Bird in Name Only

Moravský vrabec served up with red cabbage and dumplings.

A South Moravian Staple

Moravský Vrabec, which translates directly into “Moravian Sparrow”, is one of many Czech dishes where the name bears no real connection to what’s really on the plate in front of you.

If asked, typically Czechs will admit that they have no idea how so many of their national and regional dishes got their strange names. However, such situations can be very amusing for Czechs and foreigners alike when it comes to making literal translations of the names of the various meals.

Moravský Vrabec, as the name implies, originated in the Moravian regions of the eastern part of the country. This does not mean that you have to go all the way to Moravia to get a plate of this hearty main dish, indeed, it can be found in every corner of the country with local variations made to it. Any restaurant with a section of its menu given to Czech specialties should certainly have a version of it available.

The key ingredients are pork, dumplings and cabbage.

The pork, or “sparrow”, is usually taken from the shoulder or other cut with higher fat content and cut into smallish chunks, marinated and then roasted.

There aren’t really any rules about the type of cabbage or dumplings used. Some people prefer using red cabbage and bread dumplings rather than white cabbage and potato dumplings, some like a mix of both types.

Of course, like so many Czech dishes, beer is the recommended accompanying beverage for Moravský Vrabec.

Also, like many Czech meals, this one is rich and filling. you definitely don’t want to order it for lunch if you have a full and active afternoon itinerary. I assure you that you won’t want to do too much fast moving around for a while after this one.

An important thing to keep in mind when ordering this at a restaurant is that while fat is supposed to be on the meat, it’s not unusual to find restaurants that cook away too much fat or others which use meat which is far too fatty in the first place.

In my experience, the best fat to meat ratio for Moravský Vrabec, is between 15% and 25% fat to meat. Any less than 15% and the meat can be dry and tough; any more than 25% and it can be overly greasy and quite unappealing in texture.

Try it for Yourself

If you’re not in the Czech Republic and don’t have Czech restaurants in your vicinity, you can try it yourself. This link will take you to a recipe that includes everything including how to make potato dumplings:

Recipe at Take a Taste

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