Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
Croatia is a European country with a striking coastline and marvellous ancient cities. My wanderlust is running in high gear this week and I won’t lie, as much as I love it, it hurts me just a little. It’s actually prompted us to start planning our first post-Covid international trip (sshh!) but unfortunately not to Croatia. Someday for sure. In the meantime, check out this incredible blog that I’ll definitely refer back to when I eventually plan a trip to the Dalmatian Coast:
After doing some research and deliberating strongly between two dishes, we settled on a traditional Croatian dish called Pasticada, which is marinated beef served with a gravy or stew and gnocchi. Commonly served at weddings or on Saint’s Days, Pasticada prominently features red wine, garlic, and prunes.
Pasticada ranks #3 on FrankAboutCroatia’s list of top 52 Croatian dishes, #3 on NomadParadise’s list of top 20 Croatian dishes, #6 on TasteAtlas’ list of top 10 Croatian dishes, #6 on WonderfulWandering’s list of top 15 Croatian foods, #12 on TimeOut’s list of top 20 Croatian foods, #12 on HiCroatia’s list of top 13 Croatian dishes, and #13 on CroatiaWeek’s list of top 35 Croatian dishes. It’s also highlighted by Croatia-Expert.com on their post about Croatian food and Croatia Family Holidays in their Ultimate Croatian Food Guide. So, needless to say, Pasticada is a popular and beloved dish in Croatia- particularly the Dalmatian Coast.
We followed this recipe by CroatiaWeek.com.
I started by marinating the beef in a delicious blend of apple cider vinegar, red wine, garlic, salt, pepper, and bacon. We let that sit in the fridge all day, for about 10 hours in total. Then I followed the recipe’s instructions for cooking the meat and veggies. One thing to note about this recipe is that it doesn’t actually tell you when to add the carrot and parsley root to the dish. I added them at the same time as the celery, and as far as I can tell this worked fine. We let this bake while we prepared the homemade gnocchi.
We followed this recipe by ConstantlyCooking for the gnocchi.
I don’t think I’ll ever care to make homemade gnocchi again. It was sticky and I was not great at the rolling technique whatsoever (I’m sure it would come with practice… but I think I’ll try storebought next time). Please don’t come after me for the pitiful gnocchi pictured below!
After the required baking time was up and the gnocchi was semi-successfully prepared, we took the meat and veggie dish out of the oven, removed the meat, and used an immersion blender (purchased for a country meal early in the game and have never regretted it) to create the gravy/stew. We served it up as pictured in most of the articles I read and while mine did not look nearly as appetizing, I promise it smelled wonderful.
The beef was spectacular. It was tender and the flavours from the marinade were prominent. I really, really enjoyed it. The gnocchi was perfect for sopping up the sauce and I’m impressed with my first attempt at making it despite the struggles that came along with that. The sauce was super tasty at first, but as we continued to clear our plates, it quickly became overwhelmingly sweet. The sweetness from the prunes, jam, and honey was too rich for me. The underlying flavours of the vegetables and spices were great, but I could do with about half the sweetness. So, overall, did I enjoy this meal? Mostly. Would I make it again? Yes, I would, but I would try a different recipe or reduce the sweet ingredients in the one I used this time (and I would get storebought gnocchi).
See ya next week!