Friday, February 25, 2011

Czech Republic: Fillet of Beef with Bread Dumpling Slices (Napkin Dumpling)

I must admit it: I am a sucker for dumplings. Maybe that's why the older I get, the more I look like one. Made from bread or  raw or cooked potatoes, I just love those little balls. Give me dumplings with brown gravy and I am all set for lunch or dinner. I have tried different recipes throughout the years but this Czech recipe is one of my favorites. You prepare the bread dumpling mix, wrap it in a towel and immerse the whole thing in simmering water. I admit it is not a quick everyday recipe that you would want to prepare after an 8-hour work day, but it's certainly worth the effort if you have the time. I know that most Americans are rather ignorant about European cuisines other than French and Italian (well, at least you have your version of those). But trust me, it is well worth czeching out the Eastern and Central European cuisines. You'll find incredible roasts, goulashes, heart-warming soups, irresistible desserts, and much, much more!

For the beef roast:
1/4 celery root
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 1/2 onions
4-5 slices Bacon
1 1/2 lbs beef tenderloin roast
2 tbsp oil
4 pepper corns
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup hot beef bouillon
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the dumpling:
8 stale kaiser rolls (or equal amount of Italian bread)
1 medium onion
1 stick soft butter
4 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped basil
6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 tsp salt
1 dash nutmeg
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 moist kitchen towel (not the fuzzy kind!) or cloth napkin (about 32" x 32")
kitchen twine

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut vegetables and bacon into 1/2 inch cubes. Rub meat with salt and pepper. Heat oil in casserole over high heat, brown meat on all sides. Add vegetables, bacon, and herbs. Drizzle butter over meat. Pour bouillon into casserole, cover, and braise for 25 to 35 minutes. Remove meat from casserole, wrap in foil and let rest. Pass vegetables and sauce through sieve and bring to a boil. Mix sour cream and 4-5 tbsp of the sauce, then stir into sauce. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
For the dumpling, cut bread into small cubes. Mince onion, sauté in 1 tbsp butter until soft but not brown, then stir in herbs and remove from heat. Whip remaining butter with egg yolks and season with salt and nutmeg. In a large bowl, mix bread and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add onion and butter-mix and mix well. Whip egg whites and fold into bread mix. Spread towel and with moist hands form a loaf of bread-mix on the towel. Fold towel over dumpling loaf and tie end with twine. Attach dumpling roll to ends of a wooden spoon. Lower dumpling into boiling salt water and simmer for 1 hour. Turn loaf over after 30 minutes.
Slice meat and loaf and serve with the gravy.

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