Pašticada (pronounced: pashtitsada) is by far the best known and most traditional dish that reminds you of Dalmatia. It is interesting that not only every city has its own version or the method of preparation, but the recipes vary from household to household.
Pašticada is a Dalmatian specialty whose roots date back to the ancient Greek and Roman cuisine.
This dish is listed in the List of Croatian gastronomic heritage. The preparation is very complex, you have to stuff the meat first, marinate overnight, and then cook it for hours. But it is worth it.
I was born in continental Croatia, so my family does not have a recipe for Pašticada, since it is traditional Dalmatian food. But for years I’m using this recipe from one Croatian food blog and I’m very satisfied with it.
Pašticada (Dalmatian Beef Stew)
- 2 kilos beef (4 lb) top round (you can also use topside, silverside or rump), you want the back end of the cow
- 50 grams smoked/dried bacon or pancetta (1.8 oz) roughly diced
- 6 garlic cloves roughly sliced
- 2 large onions quartered
- 1 rosemary spring
- 2 bay leaves
- 500 ml red wine vinegar (2 cups, 16.9 fl oz)
- 2-3 tablespoons salt
- 2 teaspoons peppercorns
- 50 ml olive oil (1/4 cup, 1.7 fl oz)
- 6 garlic cloves sliced
- 2 large carrots sliced
- 6 prunes dried plums
- 500 ml good quality red wine (2 cups, 16.9 fl oz)
- 125 ml water (1/2 cup, 4.2 fl oz)
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 cloves
- 180 ml sweet dessert wine (3/4 cup, 6 fl oz) like Croatian Prošek or Italian Marsala
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- small piece of lemon zest
- salt and pepper to taste
- onions rosemary spring and bay leaves from marinade
- Wash and wipe the meat, rub the meat with 2-3 tablespoons salt. Using a small knife cut small pockets in meat and in every pocket insert garlic and bacon,
- In a large pot/bowl add onions, bay leaves, rosemary spring, and peppercorns. Pour red wine vinegar and water and put the meat inside. It is essential that the meat is fully covered with marinade. Add more water if it isn't.
- Cover with lid or wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day take the meat out of the marinade and drain it well. Strain the marinade and reserve onions, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary. Vinegar from the marinade we won't be using so you can discard it.
- Take a deep stockpot and heat the olive oil. Brown the meat on all sides and then remove it from the oil and set it aside. Reserve the oil in the pot. Cover it with a kitchen cloth.
- In the same pot add onions from marinade (you don't have to chop them), carrots and prunes Saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add sliced garlic, saute until fragrant 1-2 minutes.
- Return the meat to the pot, pour red and dessert wine, add cloves, nutmeg, rosemary spring, bay leaves, a small piece of lemon zest, and cook on low heat for 2 hours (occasionally add small amounts of water if you see that liquid is evaporated).
- After 2 hours, remove meat from the pot and cut it into 1.5-2 cm (3/4 inch) thin slices. Keep warm.
- With immersion blender blend vegetables in the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Return sliced meat in the pot.
- In a small saucepan, on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon water, and stir until sugar is caramelized. Add caramelized sugar to the pot with meat and simmer on low for around 30 minutes, stirring frequently, take care that sauce doesn't burn.
- The sauce has to be sweet and sour. Balance the flavor with a bit of red wine and plum jam in order to get a sweet & sour taste.
- Serve with gnocchi, preferably homemade.