Heidensterz is a traditional Alpine dish made out of cooked buckwheat semolina or flour which is roasted in lard or butter to create a filling and tasty speciality which is a little like grits but drier. It has been said that the description “Sterz” is based on the German word “stuerzen” (to overturn or tip) – which here means flour or semolina tipped into fat. One thing is certain though: Austrians fall over themselves to get their Buckwheat Mush!
- 1 litre water
- 2 tsp salt
- 300 g buckwheat flour
- 100 g greaves (or diced bacon)
- crackling fat or lard (for frying)
Directions for Buckwheat Mush
- Bring salt and water to the boil in a large pot.
- Quickly tip buckwheat flour into the boiling water in one go and stir with a wooden spoon to create one large floury clump. Leave to simmer lightly on a low heat for approx. 20 minutes.
- Drain off any excess water with the help of the lid and break up the floury clump with a two-pronged fork (e.g. a meat fork).
- Fry the greaves in a little lard until crispy and then fry together with the broken up floury mixture.
- Leave the Heidensterz to stand on the warm hob for approx. 10 minutes and stir again to loosen the pieces before serving.
GOES WELL WITH Knuckle of Pork Soup and sour Beef Broth.
For even more taste experiences you can also make this dish out of polenta – without any other ingredients besides water, soup or milk (with icing and also raisins (optional) for the sweet version), fat and salt or add seasoning, herbs and vegetables to the mixture when frying.
In the 16th and 17th century buckwheat was particularly popular in farmhouse kitchens and Heidensterz was a basic food. “Heidenbrein”, “Heidensterz” or “Hoadensterz” was regarded as a very practical dish as the steaming in water only required 5-19 minutes. Whilst the dish used to be thought of as “poor man’s food”, particularly of the lower trades e.g wood workers, servants and maids etc, it is today an established part of daily cuisine in rural areas which is also becoming increasingly popular in modern cooking. An old Styrian woodcutter’s saying goes, “After having Sterz 18 times, the week is done”. Cooks were also often judged by how well they could prepare this dish. If done well, the crumble should be loose but not too dry. Many old traditional farmhouse kitchens will still have a “Sterz fork” which is used to break the mixture into crumble.