Czech Republic - Svickova na smetane
Braised beef with vegetable puree and steamed dumplings. A very popular dish in the Czech Republic. The purée has such an earthy flavor from the root vegetables. The beef was marinated overnight and braised for almost 3 hours to have a very tender texture. Delicious.
As most of you might know, Czech Republic and Slovakia used to be Czechoslovakia until they split in ‘93. Because of that, growing up, I was very familiar with this dish. I did not like it though at the time specifically because of the earthy flavors. It has a bit of spice, like you would get from ginger, for instance. I’d consider this a great Sunday dish, but realistically, is great for any time of the week.
1 1/2 pound beef sirloin, or round rump
2 oz bacon, chopped
Salt and pepper, to season
2 large carrots, diced
1 cup celery root, diced; sub celery sticks
1 cup parsley root, diced; sub parsnip
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon vinegar
Juice from 2 lemons, divided
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup beef stock
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour, for thickening if needed
First, rinse and dry the meat from any liquids that came in the packaging. Prick the meat with a knife on all sides and stuff with the small chopped pieces of bacon. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the chopped vegetables (carrot, celery root, parsley root, and onion) into a mixing bowl. Place the beef on top. Add the vinegar and lemon juice to the mixing bowl, and give it a good stir. Next, drizzle the melted butter over the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and let it marinade overnight.
The next day, brown the meat on all sides in an oven-proof pot. I used a Dutch oven. Add the vegetables and pour the 1 cup of beef stock into the pot along with the bay leaves and peppercorns.
Preheat the oven to about 325F.
Cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven for about 2-3 hours. When done, remove the bay leaves and peppercorns, and set the beef aside. Transfer all the vegetables into a blender or food processor. Feel free to check every once in a while to make sure there is still some liquid in the pot.
When the vegetables are smooth, transfer the pureed vegetables back to the dutch oven and raise the heat to a medium. Add the heavy cream and milk.
When it comes to a boil, season with salt, lemon juice, allspice, and sugar. If the sauce is not thick enough to your liking, mix in a little flour. The consistency should be that of gravy. Set the heat to low to keep it warm.
On a cutting board, slice the beef and place them into the sauce to warm them back up.
Serve with knedle, an Eastern European version of bread dumplings, and cranberry jam or preserves. You can also serve with a dollop of whipped heavy cream or sour cream.
Recipe adapted from The Wandering Wanderluster.