Back to Basics: Czech Ptacky

At home, the experimentation continues with sous vide, but thankfully on other nights, there’s been a stark contrast to the new age cooking techniques. We’ve been bringing back old world flavors. Jan has been working for some time to recreate some traditional favorites his Grandma used to make for him in the Czech Republic when he was small. The latest, and one of my new favorites in addition to the fried cheese (link here) is Ptacky.

Ptáčky (pronounced tach-key) is Czech for bird because the brightly colored sausage, pickle and mustard stuffed inside a piece of flattened beef resembles a bird, even though there is no bird in it. Once rolled, the beef is tied and cooked like a stew. When Jan was jogging his memory to think of the dish, he kept thinking of the Czech word Papoušek (pronounced Pahp-ooh-shek), which means parrot. That would be a good description, and more fun for me to say, but Jan’s mom reported that the dish was indeed, Ptacky.

It’s the kind of dish that’s comfort food at the same time as being new and exciting (for me because it combines unexpected flavors into something delicious, and for Jan because he’s able to make a dish that has special meaning for him), and I await more of these Czech recreations in the weeks to come.

Ptacky – Czech rolled beef

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb beef sirloin (but since it is stewed you can probably use whatever is on sale)
  • 2 sausages (recommended: hot links), sliced in quarters
  • 1 large onion, finely cut
  • 2 zesty dill pickles, sliced in quarters
  • 3 cups of beef broth (recommended: Herbox bouillon cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons flour 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Sauté onion in olive oil over low heat, in an oven proof stock pot.
  2. Cut beef and pound out flat, into pieces approximately 3 by 5 inches.
  3. Salt and pepper both sides.
  4. Spread a thin layer of mustard on one side.
  5. Add one-quarter of sausage and pickle to each piece of beef.
  6. Roll up beef and tie with butcher string.
  7. Add rolled beef to sautéed onions and turn up heat for a few minutes.
  8. Add beef broth.
  9. Place in 350 degree oven for approximately 1.5 hours.
  10. Remove beef rolls from stock pot and set aside.
  11. Place stock pot on burner and add in the flower and sour cream, reduce till desired viscosity is reached.
  12. Serve with bread dumplings or on a bed of rice. Braised red cabbage is an excellent accompaniment to this meal.

Bread dumplings

Print recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 slices bread, cubed (best to use slightly stale or hardened bread)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Beat egg and milk together until smooth. Beat in flour and salt.
  2. Fold in bread cubes. Mixture should be very thick, like a dough. Add more flour to thicken if needed. (The first time I made these, I didn’t add enough flour and they were mushy — see photo at the top of this post. The next time, I added flour until I couldn’t add anymore and they were the perfect consistency — see photo at the end of this post.)
  3. Form into a cylinder with plastic wrap and let site for 10 minutes.
  4. While the dough is resting, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  5. Carefully remove the dough from the plastic wrap and drop into boiling water.
  6. Boil covered for 15 minutes.
  7. Boil uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from water and drain over a colander. Slice into ½ inch thick pieces and serve.
  9. Best served with the gravy poured on the top (see last step of Ptacky recipe).

 

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