Peka, or ‘cooking under the bell’

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We are grateful to our friend and associate in Split,  Filipa Marusic,  for her local knowledge and sharing her family recipe for this tasty traditional Croatian dish.

As well as some fabulous memories and souvenirs of your holiday to Croatia,  you should also bring back  a few traditional Dalmatian recipes.

One of the all time classics is definitely  the Dalmatian Peka recipe – this dish is usually made on an open fire grill  or hearth and requires a specially made iron bell for 100% authenticity.  This seals the dish and ensure effective braising without losng any of the flavour at all.   But an amended version can be made in a regular oven too. The most common types of Peka is veal/chicken or octopus.  No surprise perhaps that this dish is also known as ‘cooked under the bell’ and no better way is there of cooking to ensure succulent meat or octopus, and herb infused tasty vegetables.  Definitely suitable for  a cold winter evening here in the UK !

Our best ever Peka was at Hotel Tragos in Trogir – definitely one we’ve remembered for many years !

The required ingredients and preparation are below

INGREDIENTS

2 kg veal or veal/chicken combo / or alternatively octopus
1 kg potatoes
2 tomatoes (cut in large chunks, or 5-6 cherry tomatoes)
1/2 zucchini (cut in large chunks)
1 bell pepper cut in large chunks
1 grated carrot
1 onion cut in large chunks
2 garlic cloves
1 cup white wine
3 tablespoons tomato puree mixed with sea salt, pepper, Vegeta spice, rosemary – generously rubbed onto meat and potatoes
3 tablespoons sunflower oil

Put all the ingredients into a large casserole and preheat the oven on 210 Celsius and then lower it to 180 Celsius (or prepare the woods and coals for fire oven). Cover it with aluminium foil (with small holes for air). Bake for approx. 30 min and then turn the meat and potatoes on other side for 15 to 20 more minutes. If you want to have crispier Peka unwrap the foil and bake it for 10 more minutes. If you are lucky enough  to have the “bell” required for Peka making on the open fireplace then the procedure is identical,  just bake it for approximately 10 to 15 minutes longer.

The secret is in combining ingredients and regularly checking the dish in the oven – if it’s too cooked add a little more liquid and unwrap foil, or if the  meat is still not soft leave it for few more minutes, checking regularly !

Enjoy!