Croatian Cooking: Pašticada Recipe (Beef Stew)

Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Croatian Recipes: Pašticada Recipe (Dalmatian Pot Roast Or Beef Stew)

Pašticada is the holy grail of Dalmatian Croatian cooking, for me. Here in Dalmatia, this stewed beef dish is prepared with an exceptional sauce. You may know it as Dalmatinska pašticada, Dalmatian Pot Roast, or even just as beef stew, but whatever you know it as, it requires long and meticulous preparation.

I feel blessed that I was given this recipe to share with you all from the award-winning chef Mario Mandarić who is the head chef at La Gitana restaurant, located on the island of Hvar. This recipe is his personal spin on the traditional recipe.

La Gitana is on my list of places to visit when it opens up in summer. It’s located on one of the oldest historical squares in Stari Grad. They offer a blend of traditional Dalmatian hospitality with a mix of originality, both in and out of the kitchen.



A friend of mine who visited the restaurant when it opened last year said it’s a “charming rustic restaurant that offers a tasty blend of Spanish and traditional dalmatian cuisine.”

Here is what you need for this pašticada recipe

Pašticada Recipe (Beef Stew)

Pašticada Recipe (Beef Stew)

This pašticada recipe is the holy grail of Dalmatian Croatian cooking. In Dalmatia, this stewed beef dish is prepared with a very special sauce.



  • 2 kg (4.4 lbs) beef, top round (you can also use topside, silverside or rump) You want the back end of the cow
  • 20 g smoked/dried bacon (0.7 oz)
  • 200 g onions (7 oz)
  • 150 g parsley root (5.3 oz)
  • 150 g carrot (5.3 oz)
  • 50 g celery root (1.8 oz)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 20 g tomato paste (0.7 oz)
  • 200 ml cooking oil or olive oil (1 cup)
  • Apple cider
  • 10 g cloves (0.35 oz)
  • 10 dried plums, diced
  • 6 dried figs
  • 2 apples, peeled and quartered
  • 300 ml red wine (1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 Tbls. mustard
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Small bunch of thyme
  • Rosemary leaves
  • Cooking chocolate (75% cocoa)
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • 2 L of milk (8.5 cups)
  • 1,200 g flour (type 550) (9.5 cups)
  • 60 g butter (4 Tbls.) cut into small cubes
  • 20 g of ground nutmeg (0.71 ounces)
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few drops of olive oil



  1. Wash and wipe the meat and then insert the pieces of bacon in it using a knife. Salt, as desired, spread mustard over the meat and place it in the “pajc” (a container with a mixture of the apple cider vinegar and oil enough to cover the meat). Let it marinate like this for at least 5 hours (overnight, preferably)
  2. Brown the meat in hot oil (all sides). Remove it from the pan and quickly sauté the chopped onion, garlic, and vegetables
  3. Return the meat to the pan along with the red wine & simmer covered for about 2 hours. If required, add small amounts of red wine mixed with water and touch of sugar (dalmatian prošek works great as a replacement for this) as the meat cooks – it needs to be tender
  4. When the meat is tender, add tomato concentrate, diced prunes, and figs along with the apple quarters
  5. At the end of the cooking, stir in the bay leaf, rosemary, thyme &  minced cloves
  6. Add pepper and a little salt, try it and, if necessary, add a little bit of cooking chocolate. Balance the flavor with a bit of red wine and plums in order to get a sweet & sour taste to your liking
  7. Remove the meat, cut it into slices, and place on a heated plate
  8. Purée the vegetables with roast the drippings and pour it over the meat
  9. Serve with gnocchi and a slice of lemon


  1. Pour milk into a medium-sized container and let it boil
  2. Add the nutmeg, salt, butter, and olive oil
  3. When the milk boils, remove it from the heat and gently mixing with a wooden spoon, add flour
  4. When you add all the flour, mix it well enough so that it all merges into a single substance similar to dough. After you achieve that, leave it for 3-4 hours to cool completely
  5. Remove the dough, divide it into two or three parts, shape each of them into a roll, and cut it into identically sized pieces.
  6. Cook the gnocchi in boiling water for 12 minutes and serve as a side dish to pašticada
How To Make Pasticada_Chasing the Donkey Croatia

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Comments (44)

  1. Is this recipe scaled for the restaurant? Seems like it could feed the proverbial army. I’ve had similar recipes (heavy on nutmeg but light on fruit) and can’t wait to try this one. Not sure about the gnocchi, though. What are butter flakes?

    1. It’s just 2kg of meat. Amerikanka, you should know better than anyone you have to have ‘extra, just in case’ someone wants 3 plates or pops over unexpectedly. Imagine the shame if there was nothing to offer :)

      1. Yeah, “just” 2 kilos, LOL. Sure, if I’m entertaining, “extra, just in case” is the rule. For family dinner, this Jenki leans towards portion control. I hate cooking to stick stuff in the freezer. These measurements are easily cut in half, though.

        Out of curiosity, I googled butter flakes and I see that it’s some kind of store-bought baking product, often pre-added to AP flour for “biscuit” flour. I guess that’s like butter-flavored shortening. People in the American South swear by butter-flavored commercial products – where I live we use butter!

      2. Ohhh man, I love a good freezer meal. I love not cooking when Mr. CtD is away. I emailed my friend who translated this recipe for me to ask what the chef ACTUALLY wrote for those butter flakes… stay tuned :)

      3. Okay as promised those buttler flakes, was just a mistranslation – in fact it’s regular butter in small pieces / cubed :) Great pick up there, thanks so much!!

      4. Even with likes of Vegeta, I couldn’t imagine anyone there using something known as “butter flakes”! I have nothing against preparing meals specifically for the freezer, but I hate freezing and re-heating leftovers of a meal I’ve eaten. The cycle of freezing-heating I keep to a minimum for the sake of flavor – and more importantly, texture.

  2. This is my very favourite dish that my mum and I do for every special occasion .i do make my gnocchi or njoke with potatoes though . To answer Amerikanka’s question the receipe for the gnocchi is missing a line,there is no quantity for the butter flakes (I imagine them to be just grated butter) but there is probably a fair amount of it as there are no potatoes just flour ,we need SJ to find out the amount as I would like to try to make this out .I love old traditional receipes !!

  3. I’ve never tried Croatian food before but all your recipes including this makes me want to try it. I’ll try the recipe.

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