The Dalmatian coast is well-known for its delectable seafood and the lamb cooked under the iron bell. Both are delicious delicacies and worthy of your time should you be lucky enough to visit. However, they pale in comparison to our lesser known Dalmatian pasticada.
Pasticada is normally served at very important family events, such as weddings, baptisms and holidays. Several years ago Ivo and I were invited for a family Christmas lunch and his sister served their mothers cherished pasticada recipe. It was the first time I tasted this very special dish which was served after the soup and fish courses.
I doubted I had the room for much so I delicately picked the smallest piece of meat with only a few homemade gnocchi. I gingerly lifted a very small portion to my lips and was completely blown away because of the marvelous concoction of spices and herbs with meat so tender it just melted in my mouth. After devouring my small portion, I inquired if I could have another piece as my taste buds did not want to stop this explosive taste experience.
During my many years of visiting Dubrovnik prior to moving here the finest cook I knew was Ivo’s mother. She would rise before dawn and stroll to the Gundulic piazza for the freshest ingredients for the daily lunch. I hardly remember her in any room other than the kitchen; it was her domain and the meals were always the best in all of Dubrovnik.
The family Christmas day luncheon brought back special memories of Nika’s home cooked meals. Luckily she had shared her traditional recipes with her daughter so it could be savored, enhanced with very special memories. It is my wish that the coming holidays are filled with only those very warm memories of our loved ones.
3 to 4 lbs. beef round 4 cloves
5 garlic cloves, sliced 2 tbs. tomato paste
4 oz. smoked bacon (cut into ½ inch pieces) 4 prunes
4 cups wine vinegar 1 apple peeled and sliced
1 cup vegetable broth 1 bay leaf
3 onions quartered 1 tbs. fresh rosemary
2 carrots peeled and cut ½ bunch fresh parsley
1 celery root peeled and quartered salt/pepper to taste
1 parsley root peeled and quartered ½ cup Prosek (sweet dessert wine)
¼ cup red wine
- Using a sharp knife, cut slices in meat and insert garlic and bacon
- Place meat in a large glass dish adding wine vinegar and red wine, making sure all meat is covered in marinade
- Let meat marinate overnight in refrigerator, adding more vinegar and wine if needed
- Brown the meat in hot oil, all sides. Remove it from pot and saute the chopped onion, garlic and vegetables
- Return meat to pan and simmer covered for 2 hours, occasionally add small amounts of red wine and Prosek mixed with a small amount of water
- Once meat is half tender, add tomato paste, prunes and apples
- At the end of the cooking, add the bay leaf, rosemary and parsley and minced cloves
- Remove the meat and cut into medium slices and place on heated plate
- Puree the vegetables with roast dripping and pour it over the meat
- Serve with gnocchi which does not contain potatoes