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The Hirshon Czech Braised Beef in Spiced Cream Sauce with Bread Dumplings - Svíčková na Smetaně

The Hirshon Czech Braised Beef in Spiced Cream Sauce with Bread Dumplings – Svíčková na Smetaně


Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 lb. (680 g) beef sirloin
  • 2 oz. (55 g) bacon fat
  • 1 cup (235 ml) beef stock (use low-salt if canned, TFD strongly prefers homemade for this recipe)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 7 oz. (200 g) celeriac (1 medium root), peeled and diced
  • 1 medium parsley root, peeled and diced – optional but strongly recommended. If unavailable, use 1/3 a rutabaga and a small turnip
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 1/2 oz. (100 g) butter, melted
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup (235 ml) full-fat sour cream (plus some milk) – TFD endorses only Daisy brand
  • sugar
  • 3 tbsp. strong Dijon mustard (TFD prefers Edmond Fallon brand)
  • ***
  • Recipe for bread dumplings:
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace (and a bit of turmeric if you want to have a tasty-looking yellow tint to the dumplings; the flavor is good too)
  • 2 cups (475 ml) coarse flour (hruba mouka) – Mix all-purpose flour with semolina in a 1:1 ratio
  • 2 cups (475 ml) semi-coarse flour (polohruba mouka) – Mix all-purpose flour with semolina in a 2:1 ratio
  • Approx. 1 cup (235 ml) lukewarm milk (more if the dough is dry)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 23 rolls or buns (the traditional-sized ones, they’re about 70g each)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cube fresh yeast (or the dried yeast equivalent)
  • ***
  • To garnish:
  • cranberry or lingonberry preserves
  • sour cream
  • lemon slices


  1. Lard the meat (prick it with a knife or a big kitchen needle and stuff strips of the bacon fat through the sirloin). If you are using a big piece of meat, freeze the fat beforehand; it is much easier to get the fat through the whole length that way. Then, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grind all the spices including the bay leaves, then add them to the meat with the diced root vegetables, 1 tbsp. vinegar and pour melted butter over the meat to seal it. Let it marinate in a fridge overnight.
  3. Add the stock, cover with a lid and braise in the oven at 320 °F (160 °C) until the meat is very soft – you should be able to cut it with a fork. This usually takes 2-4 hours.
  4. For the dumplings:
  5. First, mix the flours with the salt and spices.
  6. Dissolve the sugar in ½ the milk, add crumbled yeast and let it grow in there a bit, until “islands” of new yeast start to from on the surface.
  7. Pour the egg into the flour, then pour in the milk (bit by bit) and yeast, and knead with your hands. Keep adding milk until you have a nice dough that’s not too dry and not too sticky (though it can be slightly wetter and stickier than your instinct would suggest – you’ll still add the buns that soak up a bit of the milk).
  8. Cut the rolls or buns into a small dice (a little smaller than ½” cubed). Gently mix the bread into the dough. Then form the dumpling mixture into a roll(s) – a 2-3 inch diameter will give you sufficiently big dumplings after you’ve left the dough to rise for about 45 minutes.
  9. Gently lower the roll into salted boiling water and cook for 16-19 minutes. You want to take it out before the crust gets slick. Prick with a fork (this prevents it from collapsing after it cools down a bit)
  10. When you’re ready to serve, cut the dumpling into circles ⅔-inch thick – using floss or a cheese wire to cut is ideal.
  11. Set them aside in a warm oven.
  12. Remove the meat and press the vegetables through a fine sieve (you can even use cloth for an extra fine texture). Use a hand blender if the texture is still not very fine and creamy.
  13. Add the sour cream and mustard and bring to boil; add salt, and the last tbsp. of vinegar – add some whole milk if the sauce needs to be thinned out. To highlight the sweet and sour taste, add some caramelized sugar (caramelize 1 tbsp. of sugar – when it starts melting and turns brown, add some water and cook).
  14. Cut the sirloin into ½” thick circles; put these back into sauce to heat them through. Garnish with cranberry or lingonberry preserves, lemon slices, a dollop of sour cream and bread dumpling slices.

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