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Svíčková: The Traditional Savory Meal of the Czech Republic

When it comes to Czech cuisine, one dish that stands out as a true gem is "Svíčková na Smetaně." This mouthwatering dish combines tender marinated beef, creamy sauce, and a medley of flavors that have been delighting Czech families and visitors alike for generations. Let's unravel the secrets behind this traditional Czech meal and guide you through crafting your own delicious Svíčková at home.



  • 800g beef sirloin or top round, trimmed and tied with kitchen twine

  • 2 onions, finely chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 lemon, zest and juice

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 5-6 allspice berries

  • 5-6 black peppercorns

  • 500ml beef broth

  • 250ml heavy cream

  • 150ml sour cream

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Combine chopped onions, carrots, celery, minced garlic, lemon zest, bay leaves, allspice berries, black peppercorns, and lemon juice in a bowl.

  2. Place the tied beef in a large dish and pour the marinade over it, making sure the meat is completely covered.

  3. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, turning the meat occasionally to ensure even marination.

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F).

  2. Remove the beef from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Strain and set aside the vegetables and spices from the marinade.

  3. In a large oven-safe pot, heat the vegetable oil and butter over medium-high heat.

  4. Sear the marinated beef on all sides until nicely browned. Remove the beef and set it aside.

  5. In the same pot, add the strained vegetables from the marinade and sauté until they start to caramelize.

  6. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, to create a roux.

  7. Gradually add the beef broth while stirring to create a smooth sauce.

  8. Return the seared beef to the pot, add the bay leaves and strained spices from the marinade, and bring to a gentle simmer.

  9. Cover the pot and transfer it to the preheated oven. Let it braise for about 2 to 2.5 hours or until the beef is fork-tender.

  10. Once the beef is cooked, remove it from the pot and discard the bay leaves and spices. Keep the sauce in the pot.

Creamy Sauce:

  1. Strain the sauce to remove the cooked vegetables and return it to the pot.

  2. Stir in the heavy cream, sour cream, and sugar. Simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

  3. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it with a bit of water or additional broth.


  1. Slice the cooked beef into thin pieces and arrange them on a serving plate.

  2. Pour a generous amount of creamy sauce over the beef slices.

  3. Serve the Svíčková with a side of Czech bread dumplings (knedlíky) or boiled potatoes.

  4. Garnish with a dollop of cranberry sauce and a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley for a burst of color and flavor.

Svíčková na Smetaně embodies the heart and soul of Czech cuisine. This dish's rich history and layers of flavors make it a true masterpiece, bringing together the warmth of family gatherings and the comfort of tradition.

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