PEKA is a large metal baking dish with a bell-shaped dome cover. Under the bell, under the lid, ispod peke, ispod čripnje – depending which part of Croatia you are, you will hear different names, but won’t forget the taste of this very special traditional Dalmatian dish.
Croatian families prepare it for special occasions like religious holidays, Christmas, New Year etc. The recipe is very old, but still used today because it is the best way to preserve the richness of taste. It takes a true master to make a good peka and so this skill is passed down from generation to generation.
Usually it’s cooked in an open fireplace, which most of us have by the house. But don’t worry, if you happen to live in the flat without garden – you can still bring the taste of your summer holidays for your Sunday family dinner.
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: approx. 1,5 – 2 hours : depending on intuition and ingredients.
1-1.5 kg meat of your choice ( we prefer lamb and veal ) or octopus
200 ml olive oil
0.8-1kg potatoes, quartered lengthwise
2 zucchini, sliced
2 onions, sliced into eighths
8 garlic cloves
4-5 carrots, sliced
1-2 bell pepper
100 ml white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
dried bay leaf to taste
- Wash vegetables. Peel carrots, onions and potatoes. Cut the vegetables and salt and pepper them to taste. Set aside.
- Combine the meat and the vegetables in a flat, round tray.
- Pour olive oil on the meat and vegetables and massage it evenly into the food.
- Add salt, pepper, dried bay leaf and sprigs of rosemary to taste.
If you have fireplace – start your fire approximately one hour before you wish to start cooking. Make the fire in the same spot you will place the tray. Allow it to burn down to hot coals. In the meantime prepare the ingredients. Place your metal pan in the cooking area, and cover with the lid/bell with your wood embers. Leave it too cook. Check periodically to make sure that there is right enough moisture. About half of the way through the cooking process, turn the meat and vegetables, spooning the liquid onto them. Add white wine. Cook for an additional 45 minutes or until the meat is tender and vegetables are soft. Remove from heat. Serve with fresh bread and a salad.
If you don’t have a peka, you can cook this dish in a cast-iron casserole pan with a lid for around 2 hours: first 20 minutes at 200 C, then lower the temperature to 170 C and add all the wine at the start.