Svíčková na Smetaně is a traditional dish from the Czech Republic consisting of larded beef and dumplings served with a creamy vegetable sauce. The beef is slow cooked over the vegetables until tender. The vegetables are then used to make the sauce.
Svíčková na Smetaně is usually served with a dollop of cream, a slice of lemon and cranberries.
Svíčk means candle in Czech and it refers to the shape of the tenderloin. The beef is larded to keep it moist and Svíčková na Smetaně means Svíčková with cream.
The beef is larded to keep it moist during cooking. However Svíčková is seldom a reference to the meat, it usually refers to the sauce. The sauce which is the most important component of this dish, is made up almost entirely of vegetables which include carrot, parsley, root celery and onions.
There are a couple of dumplings which can be used, the first is a bread dumpling called Houskove Knedlíky. It is made using flour, cooked by steaming then served sliced. The second type of dumpling is Karlovarský Knedlíky also known as Carlsbad dumplings. Knedlíky means dumpling. These are just two of several types of traditional dumplings which are common side dishes in the Czech Republic.
Origin & Cultural Significance
In the Czech Republic, Svíčková na Smetaně is a staple dish in homes and restaurants. It is prepared for weddings and other special occasions. It is uniquely Czech, and Svíčková na Smetaně cannot really be found anywhere else in the world.
- Beef - 3 lbs
- Bacon fat
- Lard – 1 ½ tbsp
- Ground pepper - to taste
- Salt - to taste
- Water - 6 cups
- Carrots - 2
- Parsley root - 2
- Celeriac - 7 oz.
- Onions - 3
- Apple - 1
- Butter (unsalted) - 1 stick
- Granulated sugar - ½ cup
- Vinegar (5% acidity) - 1/3 cup
- Bay leaves - 6
- Allspice balls - 10
- Peppercorns - 10
- All-purpose flour - 3 tbsp
- Heavy cream (at least 30 % fat content) - 1 cup
- Lemon - 1
Lard the beef
- Cut fat bacon into ⅓ inch thick x 4 inch long pieces and put them into a freezer for 30 minutes to harden them.
- Use a thin knife with a long edge and make some holes into the meat.
- Stick your index finger inside each hole and wiggle it so the hole enlarges.
- Press strips of lard into the holes.
- For a better shape, you can tie the irregular-shaped meat with a kitchen twine.
- After the meat is larded, salt and pepper it properly from all sides.
Prepare the vegetables and spices
- Peel the carrot, parsley root, celeriac and apple dice into ½ inch pieces.
- Peel onions and chop them roughly.
- Tie the spices tightly in a piece of cheesecloth.
Prepare the beef
- In a large heavy pot, melt lard over highe heat and sear the beef from all sides until golden brown. Remove the browned meat and set it aside.
Cook the Vegetables
- Using the same pot, reduce the temperature to medium heat, add butter and any leftover fat bacon from larding.
- Add diced carrots, parsley root, and celeriac and cook until slightly golden, stirring occasionally.
- Add the onions to vegetables and cook until lightly golden.
- Add the diced apple and cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add sugar, mix, and let it melt while stirring.
- Pour in vinegar, mix, and let vinegar evaporate, so that there are only vegetables and some fat on the bottom of the pot.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir.
Cook the beef
- Return the browned beef to a pot, pour hot water over it until you have the meat almost submerged.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt and spices.
- If adding the bay leaves freely, count them so they can all be removed later.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to very low. Cover with a lid and allow it to simmer for 2.5 hours.
- Remove the spices, especially all bay leaves.
- Remove ¼ of vegetables.
- Take the beef out and keep it in a warm place.
- In a pan, melt ½ stick butter on medium heat.
- Add flour, frequently stir until lightly golden.
- Put the roux into a sieve, submerge into the svíčková and press roux through the sieve.
- Continuously mix the roux in the sauce.
- Bring the pot back on a stove, let it simmer for 15-20 minutes- the sauce will thicken and lose the floury tasate
- Add heavy cream into sauce and turn off the heat.
- Mix everything with an immersion blender or blend till smooth.
- Strain the sauce in a clean pot.
- Season with lemon juice and salt to your liking.
- Serve with bread dumplings and a slice of beef.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1059Total Fat: 72gSaturated Fat: 36gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 289mgSodium: 395mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 5gSugar: 25gProtein: 63g
Nutrition is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. It is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimation.
Photo credit: Matyáš Havel