Cultured Palate: Dishes from Croatia
This dish is immensely popular in Croatia, but it’s difficult to find in a restaurant due to its long cooking time. Pašticada is a stewed meat dish that can be prepared with a variety of different cuts of meat, but it’s the cooking process that defines the dish. First, the meat is marinated in vinegar overnight, then allowed to cook with a variety of veggies for at least five hours. Then the veggies are pureed into a sauce, and the meat is served in the sauce, over homemade pasta. In Dalmatia, where it originated, this dish is frequently served on feast days and special occasions.
8. Ispod peke
This method of cooking isn’t unique to Croatia — it’s common in the neighboring countries of Bosnia and Montenegro as well. Ispod peke, when translated into English, means “under the bell.” The “bell” refers to a lid placed over a cooking vessel, which is then covered with burning embers and allowed to cook slowly underneath a fire. There are many different dishes that use this cooking technique, and like pašticada, it’s hard to replicate in restaurants because this dish benefits from being eaten immediately after cooking. Many Croatian families have outdoor kitchens and fire pits that they use specifically for making dishes like this. What families put in their pot depends on the region, but popular varieties include dishes made of octopus, fish, or lamb.
Kotlovina such a key part of Croatian heritage that it even has its own specially made cooking vessel that’s only used for cooking this dish. Hailing from the northern, inland part of Croatia surrounding the capital, Zagreb, this dish is comprised of various cuts of meat (often pork and chicken) that are fried then simmered in their own juices in the namesake dish over an outdoor fire. A perfect dish for a summer evening cook out!