Growing up, I thought that the most famous Czech dish had something to do with candles (svicka means a candle). My father did not help much and while supporting my theory, always mentioned that there are melted candles in the sauce. It did not make much sense because I had never seen my mother putting them in the pot while cooking… Couple years later, I found out that svickova is actually a kind of beef. “The best part of a cow!” my father has been saying from that point.
Unfortunately, he has not been completely right. A well-known Czech cookbook writer Magdalena Dobromila Rettigova mentioned in her legendary A Household Cookery Book from 1826 that svickova can be made from svickova (beef tenderloin) or even round beef steak. Either way, the result is truly amazing.
1 kg/2.20 lbs beef (tenderloin or round steak)
150 g/0.3 lbs pork fat (Iberico)
1 yellow onion
3 parsley roots
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp yellow mustard
8 cups of beef broth + extra
5 bay leaves
10 allspice balls
5 black pepper balls
1 1/2 cup of 15% cream
fresh lemon juice
Clean and wash the beef. Make deep holes with a sharp knife in it. Put thin sticks of pork fat in each hole. Roast the beef from all sides in a pan. Than let it sit on a side.
Slice leftover fat and put it into a large hot pot. Add diced onion, carrots, parsley roots and celeriac. Make sure the vegetables are golden from all sides, then add brown sugar. Wait until it is caramelized. Put the mustard in the pot, stir well, add roasted beef, spices in a cloth (bay leaves, allspice and black pepper) and pour in the broth. Slowly cook until the meat is tender.
Take the meat and spices out from the pot. Use a food processor to make the most delicious sauce out of the vegetables. Return the sauce into the pot. Add the cream and even more broth if the sauce is too thick. Add salt, sugar and fresh lemon juice as needed. Serve with sliced beef and houskove dumplings.
In the Czech pubs, you can often see a slice of lemon, cranberry jam and whipped cream as a part of serving – not my favorite part though.