Dalmatian traditional food – top receipts to try / Meat menu
Although Croatia is a rather small country, it’s diversity in the cuisine is to be thankful to the multicultural influences of the historical conqueror and neighbour countries. As Dalmatia was mostly a Roman province, the influence on the today gastronomy and similarity with the Italian cooking is very noted.
Mainly the traditional Dalmatian cuisine is orientated toward fish and vegetable meals, meat dishes also take a big part of everyday cooking.
Here is a meat menu of 4 courses that you can prepare by yourself:
- Cold plate – Smoked ham and cheese
- Warm plate – Domestic veal soup
- Main plate – Dalmatian Peka
- Desert – Krostule
Cold plate – Smoked ham and cheese
There isn’t any gathering, family, official or occasional, where this cold plate is not served.
Actually there is no cooking here, just arrange nicely on a plate, but it is very important to choose the right cheese and ham. Good choices are always the ham produced (smoked) locally, the area of Drniš is very well known in Croatia for this product. Also, it's advisable to choose local cheese - the island of Pag is well-known for the quality production of cheese. Of course, you can choose any other sheep or goat cheese or ham, bought in your supermarket, depending on your preferences.
Other than ham, you can also add some salty anchovy, olives and even put some fruits (grapes, fig or melon) as the smoked ham is tastefully blended with a lot of different food, and fresh, seasonal fruits are definitely on that list. Any sweet fruit that will match the salty and intense taste of dry ham will do; chose the one you prefer.
Don’t forget to put some extra virgin olive oil on top of all.
Warm plate – Domestic veal soup
It is said that a domestic soup, veal, beef or chicken is like medicine so hurry up, read this recipe and start cooking. This is a great introduction in the world of gastronomy since soup is one of the simplest things to cook! So just put all ingredients in a large cooking pan:
- 1 kg of veal or beef – it would be best if it is not only meat, but that it has also bones to give more taste, not to greasy
- 2-3 carrots
- 2 potatoes
- 2 tomatoes (fresh or frozen)
- 1 onion
- 4-5 slices of garlic
- some extra virgin olive oil
Add water to cover everything and put on the heat. Once it comes to boiling, lower the heat and cook for a while. It will be cooking at least an hour till the meat is ready. If you have a pressure pot, it is quicker and more convenient for cooking, but definitely it is more tasteful if cooked in a classic way.
After the meat is ready, take out the meat, potatoes and carrots (you can serve them separately with addition of cooked mangold or tomato salsa sauce or leave then in the soup when serving). Decant the soup into a separate bowl to separate the liquid from the remaining pieces of vegetables. You can cook a bit of small pasta if you like or no pasta at all and serve with meat, carrots and/or potatoes in the soup.
Main plate – Peka / Dalmatian Peka
This dish traditionally is cooked on a special way in the fireplace; the food is cooked in a baking tray covered with a metal lid “under the bell” and all covered with hot coals. The food under the bell is slowly cooked in its sauces and is offering a unique taste depending upon the ingredients that you put.
Usually, the Peka is made with veal or lamb meat, or octopus meat mixed together with the potatoes. Also, if it’s according to your taste you can add different vegetables: tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrots… the combinations are endless.
Be sure to add also some white wine (1 dcl), fresh rosemary, pepper and olive oil. As under the bell the food is slowly cooked - you should open it and turn over the ingredients every half an hour. After a 1,5 hour the food should be ready. Serve it with homemade bread if possible.
If you don’t have a fireplace, an oven will just have to do it! Cover the cooking pan with aluminium foil.
Desert - Kroštule
This desert is a very crispy pastry, tempting all your senses to offer a very specific pleasure. My favourite recipe is originally coming from the island of Brač and is not complicate to make. You will need the next ingredients:
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons of herb brandy
- 2 tablespoons of rum
- 4 tablespoons of dissolved fat (domestic pork fat would be best)
- 2 bags of vanilla sugar
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- A pinch of salt
- Flour as much as it absorbs
- Vegetable oil for frying (approx. 0.75 dcl)
- Powdered sugar
Take a bowl and blend together eggs, sugar, brandy, rum, and fat, put a pinch of salt, work with a pastry blender, then add flour until you get an uniform dough that is not too soft and nor too hard. When added enough flour, work the pastry with your fingers. Leave the dough half an hour to rest. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 parts.
Put on a rolling pin some strong flour and spread off each part, until you get a square thin dough layer, then cut into strips. Tie a knot with every stripe. Fry in deep oil for a short time, just until they get some colour. They should not be too dark, just a golden colour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar every time when finish frying. And the last thing is to enjoy in this desert. Offer them with coffee or tea.
They even taste better the day after.