FOR MEAT-LOVERS IN JELSA
Dalmatian cuisine is probably best known for its plentiful fish, its fish specialities, its variety of seasonal vegetables, and, of course, olive oil, but in truth most Dalmatians also highly prize and love a piece of good meat. Among popular meat dishes are meat soups, boiled meat with potatoes and home-made sauce (salsa), stuffed peppers, grilled meat, kebabs, and – the queen of all meat dishes – ‘pašticada’.
The Dalmatian tradition is to serve boiled meat (‘lešo meso’) on Sundays. The meat is cooked with various vegetables, which are the basis for the first course of soup, while the main meat course is served with side dishes such as mashed potato, home-made sauce and capers. Lamb is the number one meat preferred by Dalmatians.
Grilled meats are a special subject, and everything depends on which meats are selected. Lamb grilled over the barbecue is the Dalmatian favourite, preferably served with grilled seasonal vegetables. Whether you prefer lamb, fillet steak, rump steak, you will certainly be delighted by the special flavours of any meat cooked over vine branches.
‘Pašticada’, a type of beef stew, is definitely number one among Dalmatian meat dishes. It is steeped in tradition, with the various recipes for it passed down from generation to generation. Every family has its own special way of making it, and there is no such thing as a right or wrong way. It is a sweet-and-savoury dish, made from beef fricando (ham meat), fruit and vegetables, together with home-made gnocchi (dumplings) served in a rich sauce.
‘Under the bell’ – the ‘Peka’
The Dalmatian cuisine offers so many good things to try, that most probably you will have to visit over and again to appreciate the variety available. One of the priority dishes has to be the Dalmatian ‘peka’, a particular technique of cooking over an open fire, giving results which delight young and old alike. The ‘peka’ is a metal dome or bell with a matched metal base, and a metal rim which sits on the outside of the dome above the sides of the base. Food cooked in this way is referred to as being cooked ‘under the bell’ (‘pod pekom’, ‘ispod peke’).
Foodstuffs are placed in the base: meat is not the only possibility, other foods such as octopus work equally well. The meats commonly used include veal, pork, chicken, or lamb, singly or sometimes in a mixture of two or three types. Usually there are also vegetables and potatoes. Wood fuel is heated in an enclosed barbecue and reduced to charcoal which is then pulled aside, and the filled peka is placed on the hot base; the charcoal is heaped around the metal rim around the dome, so that the peka is heated from above and below. With several hours of gentle cooking, simmering in the juices of the main ingredients, all the flavours combine into a succulent whole. Naturally, as any dish ‘under the bell’ takes so long to prepare, it has to be ordered in advance.
Fine wine to go with great meat dishes
As the perfect accompaniment to Dalmatian meat dishes, we recommend a fine Hvar plavac red wine.
Dalmatian food is to be enjoyed to the full, and at leisure. It is not only about the food itself, but also tradition, socializing, happiness, peace and good fortune, as much for the host as for the guest.