Dalmatian beef stew with prunes and apples | Pašticada

Because both of my parents hail from Slavonija, I had heard of Pašticada but never made it and quite frankly I had never even tried it. So here is another first time recipe, being another Dalmatian classic that wasn’t taught up north.

Taking days to prepare this is the grand-dame of Dalmatian cooking and served at home for a special lunch/dinner or at functions like weddings, christenings etc. While apparently you can make Pašticada with figs, I used Ino Kuvacic’s recipe from his Dalmatia cookbook which uses the original apples and prunes for the sauce.

I loved making this and I hope you do too! I did make potato dumplings to go with it but the rectangular shape that they should be, didn’t work for me, they all just fell apart in the boiling water. So I made them into balls, if you have any tips, please let me know.

Ingredients:

(for the Pašticada)

  • 2.5 kilos beef cheeks
  • One (1) litre red wine
  • 50mls red wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar as that’s what was in the cupboard)
  • Two (2) brown onions, diced 2mm thick
  • Two (2) carrots, diced 2mm thick
  • Two (2) celery stalks, diced 2mm thick
  • Three (3) whole cloves
  • Half a cinnamon stick
  • Two (2) bay leaves
  • 200mls extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100 grams prosciutto, diced
  • Three garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400 grams tomatoes, diced
  • Three (3) litres beef stock
  • Two apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
  • 200 grams tinned pitted prunes, diced
  • One (1) tablespoon dijon mustard
  • One (1) teaspoon prune jam (if you can find it??)
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

(the for dumplings)

  • One kilo waxy potatoes (desiree, sebago or nicola)
  • 240 grams plain flour
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • One (1) egg
  • 50 grams grated parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Marinate the beef overnight in the red wine, vinegar, onion, carrot, celery, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves.
  2. The next day, take the beef out of the marinade, separate the vegetables and the liquid and keep them both.
  3. Seal the cheeks in the olive oil in a frying pan over high heat for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove the beef and deglaze the pan with the marinade.
  4. In another saucepan over high heat, sauté the prosciutto, and when crispy, add the chopped garlic. Add all the marinated vegetables and spices, and sauté for a further 20-25 minutes.
  5. When the vegetables are cooked, add the tomato and sauté for a further five minutes.
  6. Add the sealed beef cheeks, deglaze liquid, and the beef stock. Braise for 90 minutes.
  7.  (Make the dumplings around here)
  8. Add the peeled apples and pitted prunes and cook for a further 60 minutes, or until the cheeks are cooked. You should be able to push your fingers through the cheek but it still should have some resistance.
  9. When the cheeks are cooked, remove the beef, cinnamon stick and bay leaves from the braising liquid and set aside.
  10. Skim any scum off the top and then use a hand-blender to blend the liquid until smooth.
  11. Adjust the flavour using the mustard and jam – the flavour should be sweet and sour.
  12. Divide the cheeks among the serving plates and pour the sauce over and add the dumplings to serve.

Dumplings:

  1. Put the potatoes, unpeeled, into a saucepan of boiling water and boil until cooked.
  2. Drain and peel them while still hot.
  3. Pass the potatoes through a ricer. Place potatoes into a bowl with the flour, softened butter, egg, parmesan and season with salt. Taste to make sure it’s seasoned enough.
  4. While still warm, roll the dough into 2cm balls and roll a fork over them. I did all of this on baking paper, as they started to stick on my wooden board.
  5. Cook the dumplings in boiling water for three minutes, or until they come to the surface. Gently take them out of the water with a slotted spoon, drain.

Let me know if you tried this Dalmatian sensation and what you thought?

Dobar Tek! Zivjeli! (Bon Appetit! Cheers and let’s live!)

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