Pašticada is a stewed beef dish cooked in a special sweet and sour sauce that is very popular in Croatia. It is often called Dalmatinska pašticada because it originates in the Dalmatia region (the same place Dalmatian dogs are from).
Traditional Dalmatian pašticada is usually served with gnocchi (njoki) or homemade pasta. In Dalmatia, it is a meal for important feasts, including weddings.
It requires long and meticulous preparation: first, the meat is pierced and stuffed with garlic, cloves and bacon, then salted and marinated in vinegar overnight. The marinated beef is then roasted and cooked with roasted bacon, onions, parsley root, nutmeg, prunes, tomato paste, water and prošek wine for up to five hours, depending on meat.
The dish is quite popular throughout the southern coast of Croatia but there isn’t one way to make an authentic pašticada. Every family from Split to Dubrovnik will have its own version of this beef stew.
One recipe from Dubrovnik was found and actually dates from the fifteenth century. The origins of pašticada are not entirely known but one can assume that it is related to variants from Greece, eastern Italy and even southern France. It is actually quite similar to the French Daube Provençale, although it is not clear whether they share a common origin.
One of the other key ingredients of the recipe is wine. The original recipe (or at least one of the most famous) calls for a dessert wine named Prošek (which has nothing to do with Italian Prosecco, which is a dry sparkling white wine).
Citizens, I hew closely to tradition with my version of this recipe: I do add an optional touch of mustard, and have included some fresh herbs to accent the flavor even further, as well as a touch of lard for richness.
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