Croatian Cooking: Pašticada Recipe (Beef Stew)

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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.

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 call 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. to what he calls the war of the pasticadas . In Dalmatia, every household has their own recipe, with secret ingredients carefully guarded and passed down from generation to generation, and naturally everyone claims theirs is the true  pasticada. Barbieri says that the sweet-sour combination is typical of dishes from 1fea ancient Greece and the Levant. So the origins of pasticada could be more than two and a half thousand years old!

  2. My Grandma made a stuffing from bread, eggs, ham and green onions with some herbs or spices she called Nadif. Do you have a recipe for that? It was boiled in a casing. We cannot buy this where I live. Wonder if there is a substitute for the casing.

    1. It was called NADJEV probably which sounded like NADIV or NADIF. It just means stuffing in croatian.

  3. I have made thus twice with topside. If I make it again I will use brisket or beef cheeks. Topside is too dry.

  4. Pašticada should be dark (checkšticada), slightly sour, and fork-tender. You marinate it in a mixture of vinegar and wine (not oil). You roast it, cook it, slice it, and cook again. Caramelizing the onions is key.

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