With this special dish, we dive into the Czech passion for creamy sauces. Svíčková gets its name from the type of meat that dominates this dish, sirloin steak, and the whole dish translates as roast sirloin steak in sour cream sauce with dumplings.
Svíčková is often a source of amusement among English-speaking Czechs, as they often comically refer to it as “the candle sauce,” which would be the literal translation.
If you’re attending a Czech wedding, there’s an 80% chance you’ll get this as a main course. Expect a slow roasted sirloin steak in a juice/base of carrots, celeriac, parsley root and onion, which is blended into a very smooth sauce softened with full cream.
The sauce is then poured over the thin slices of tender sirloin steak, accompanied by the now familiar dumplings, and garnished with cranberry compote and a lemon wedge. Due to the time-consuming and generally difficult nature of this dish, it’s believed that once a girlfriend pulls out a perfect svíčková, she’s ready to get married and start a family.
for Slid: Pot roast
- Bacon the meat (pierce with a knife or a large kitchen needle and put strips of bacon fat through the sirloin. If you are using a large piece of meat, freeze the fat ahead of time to allow it to run through the entire length more easily). season with salt and pepper, add the herbs, diced root vegetables, lemon juice and vinegar and pour melted butter over the meat to seal. Let it marinate overnight in the fridge.
- Add the stock, cover with a lid and braise in the oven at 160°C (320°F) until the meat is very tender – you should be able to cut it with a fork. This usually takes 2-4 hours.
- Remove the meat and press the vegetables through a fine sieve. Use an immersion blender if the texture is not yet very smooth and creamy.
- Add the cream and bring to a boil; add salt, lemon, vinegar or sugar to taste. If the sauce isn’t thick enough, you can thicken it with a little flour, but hopefully you can do without it.
- Cut the sirloin steak into half-centimeter-thick circles and return them to the sauce to heat through. Serve with cranberry jam. A small dollop of whipped cream in the sauce is also a fairly traditional way of servingloin.
For the bread dumplings:
- First mix the flour with the salt and spices.
- Dissolve the sugar in half of the milk, add the crumbled yeast and let it rise until “islets” of new yeast appear on the surface. Pour the egg into the flour, then add the milk (little by little) and the yeast and knead with your hands. Keep adding the milk until you have a nice dough that isn’t too dry and not too sticky (although it may be a little wetter and stickier than your instincts would suggest – you still need to add the buns that will absorb a little milk).
- Cut the buns or buns into small cubes (cubes slightly smaller than half a centimeter). Gently mix the bread into the dough. Then form the dumpling mixture into a roll (rolls) – a 2-3 inch diameter will give you big enough dumplings after letting the dough rise for about 45 minutes.
- Carefully lower the roll into salted boiling water and cook for 16-19 minutes. You want to get it out before the crust gets slimy. Prick with a fork (this prevents it from collapsing when cooled).
- When ready to serve, cut the dumpling into 2/3 inch thick circles, preferably with floss or cheese thread.