Comfort food that spans cultures
October 26, 2013
The more you travel, the more you discover the ways countries and cultures have commingled and influenced one another. This is particularly noticeable when it comes to food, as through the centuries settlers bring comforting reminders of their homelands with them to new regions. In Europe, braised beef is hearty fare for the stomach, but light on the wallet. You may see a version of this meal on our new European itinerary, Crossroads of the Adriatic: Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Slovenia. Heavier versions—especially those served with dumplings (gnocchi, here)—are more likely to be found in central Europe, which you can discover on our new Jewels of Bohemia: Czech Republic, Slovakia & Hungary adventure.
Pašticada is the Croatian word for beef that has been braised in red wine for many hours. Usually served with potato dumplings, this dish promises full bellies, and delicious smells wafting through your home. The Hungarian version includes beef cut into chunks and the sauce thinned out into a stew, to make the more familiar goulash. This is particularly savory when served alongside gnocchi.
- 4 cups red cooking wine (dry or sweet, to your taste)
- 2 lbs eye round (or any relatively lean, tough cut of beef)
- 1/3 cup carrots, chopped
- 1/3 cup leek, chopped
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 1/4 cup celery, chopped
- 1 Tbsp thyme
- 1 Tbsp rosemary
- 1 tsp juniper berries
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ tsp cloves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Corn starch (optional)
- Marinate the beef in the red wine, together with the thyme, rosemary, juniper berries, bay leaf, and cloves. Leave covered in the refrigerator overnight.
- In a large pan, sear the outside of the beef until it takes on a deep color on the outside. Remove the beef from the pan, and add the carrots, leeks, 1 cup of diced onion, and celery to cook in the juice.
- When the vegetables have softened, remove them to the bottom of a deep roasting pan with the browned beef and the rest of the red wine from the marinade. Cover and braise at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours, or until the beef is cooked through.
- When the meat is ready, remove it from the pot to rest, and strain the wine sauce in the pan. Remove all vegetables and, if necessary, reduce the sauce or thicken with corn starch. Slice or shred the beef.
- 2 1/3 cups uncooked, store-bought gnocchi
- 1/4 cup onion
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup diced tomato
- Salt to taste
- Boil the gnocchi as directed in generously salted water. While the gnocchi is cooking, sauté the onion in olive oil, and then add the tomato sauce and diced tomato so it can warm and reduce. When gnocchi is cooked, add to the sauce and combine.
- Serve with the pasticada on top, or on the side.