13 April 2009


Saturday April 11 -- My dad and I made Svíčková, my favourite Czech meal. You may want to become a fan of it too, once you've tasted it.

We used a pressure cooker, which doubles the pressure so that the food inside cooks at a higher temperature. My dad explains: "At higher elevations, where the pressure is lower, water boils at a lower temperature (eg. Water allegedly boils at 90° in Denver). When pressure is increased, water boils at a higher temperature." With a pressure cooker we can use less water, but still maximize on temperature for cooking the food . . . And because the temperature is higher, we don't have to cook it for as long.

Generally you would buy the cheapest, toughest meat you can find, and use a pressure cooker to tenderize it. That's how Czechs roll: Save on both money AND time with a little thing called SCIENCE. The meat we used wasn't bad to begin with, so we only needed 20 minutes in the pressure cooker.

Here is a photo of the root vegetables that form the base of the sauce. If you can't find celery root, then substitute with celery.


6 eye of round steaks
salt & pepper
half of 1 celery root
6 large carrots
2 medium parsnips
1 medium onion
beef stock

peel of 1 lemon
peppercorns (about 5 per steak)
allspice (about 5 total)
5–6 bay leaves (FRESH)
1 tsp thyme (optional)
sour cream (just over half a 500 mL container)
Serve with
cranberry sauce
lemon slices
bread dumplings

Peel and chop the veggies. Salt and pepper the meat, and sear it.

Add veggies to the pot and pour in 2–3 cups water (with beef stock if desired) to almost cover. Add seasonings.

Pressure cook 20 minutes (or about 1 1/2 hours, covered, if you don't have a pressure cooker) until meat is tender and veggies close to disintegration.

Remove meat from broth and set aside. Use a hand blender to blend veggies and seasonings until smooth. Pass through a seive if necessary. Add sour cream and blend again. (If sauce is not thick enough, add corn starch mixed with a little water and bring to a boil. It's preferable not to do this, and if you have this problem, use more carrots next time.)

The sauce should have a subtle tangy sourness. Add lemon juice to taste if necessary.

Serve with bread dumplings, cranberry sauce and a lemon slice.

A couple more notes on the bread dumplings: here's a photo of the desired "slightly runny" consistency of the dough, with bread pieces mixed in. When packing the dough into the containers, use a wet spoon to press it down to minimize formation of air bubbles in the dumplings.


  1. That looks AMAZING. I love my pressure cooker dearly (inherited from my grandma) and it's true, a super tough piece of meat can be incredibly tender in 30 mins. SCIENCE!

    Can't wait to try this recipe myself.

  2. Can you recommend a wine to go with Svickova? I am heading to a friend's for a czech easter and want to bring something that goes.


  3. Hello! I'd recommend a red, maybe a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz? I have no idea what's right though, that's just what I'd go for. Enjoy your dinner!


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