Pasticada is traditional Dalmatian dish composed of beef eye of round , prunes, onion, and spices.There are few variations of Pasticada, but I have tried only this one and I can’t even imagine trying it different way.
I was first introduced to this dish by my mother in law. She used to make it every Christmas and New Year (when I had my first bite of it, I understood why she made it twice in that week). Tenderness of meat, sweet and sour sauce and explosion of spices in my mouth….it was love at first sight.Tradition goes on. Every Christmas, our house smells like heaven, and now, even though it’s spring time we had to treat our taste buds once again.
For pac (brine):
- 1,60 kg beef eye of round
- half carrot
- 2 garlic cloves
- 14 cloves
- about 2,5 l wine vinegar
For the meal:
- 2 onions
- 30 gr celery root
- 8 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 pinches salt
- little pepper
- little nutmeg
- 1 dcl Prosek (sweet dessert wine originally from Dalmatia, don’t confuse it with Italian Prosecco)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 6 little onions (I used shallots)
- 6 cloves
- 12 prunes
Day before you’re making Pasticada, prepare beef eye of round and put it in brine.
Using sharp knife to cut little holes in the meat and expand them even deeper using your finger. Slice pancetta, carrot and garlic into little pieces and fill each hole in this order: carrot, garlic, pancetta and clove.
I have made about 14 holes. Yes, your finger will numb eventually :)
Put meat into large pot and cover it with vinegar. Don’t worry if all of the meat is not covered. Just rotate it at half of the total brining time.
Let it rest for 24 hours or at least overnight.
Prepare large pot. Add oil, chopped onions and celery root, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Do not turn your heat on. Take the meat out of the brine and put it in the pot with onions.
Now is time to turn the heat to maximum. On my electric stove it’s number 9. When the meat and onion start to simmer turn the heat down to 8. Using two forks rotate the meat so it evenly browns on all sides and using your cooking spatula stir the bottom of the pot. When all the liquid evaporates add water every now and then and stir constantly while rotating the meat. After frying for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 7 and continue with procedure for half an hour.
When frying is done, transfer meat in another pot because the first one will be a bit burned on the bottom and you don’t want that taste in your meal. Also, don’t forget to transfer fried onions mixture.
Rinse the first pot with a bit of hot water and pour it in the second pot. Put everything again on the electric stove and when water evaporates add glass of Prosek mixed with tomato puree.
When the liquid evaporates again, add water to about half of the meat and cover with lid.
Reduce heat to almost minimum (to 3). Rotate meat every 30 minutes, so it cooks evenly.
Prepare little onions and prunes. Insert one clove into each onion.
After 2 hours of cooking add onions and cook for another hour.
Carefully take the meat out and slice it into 1 cm thick slices and put it back to the pot.
Add prunes and cook for another 30 minutes.
I make rather thin sauce. My family loves it that way, but if you want a thicker sauce add 1 or 1,5 tbsp of cornstarch one minute before the meal is done.
Serve with gnocchi.