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Milk Street Bowtie Slavonian-Style Shepherd’s Stew

Slavonian-Style Shepherd’s Stew

6 Servings

3 hours 50 minutes active

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From the Slavonia region of Croatia, čobanac is a meat-centric stew rich with paprika and thickened in part by shredded root vegetables that break down during a long, slow simmer. Though referred to as shepherd’s stew (čoban translates as shepherd), the dish traditionally is made with not only lamb but also beef, pork and wild game. To simplify, we opted to use only beef; chuck roast is our cut of choice for its meaty flavor, nice marbling and ample connective tissue that helps make a full-bodied broth. To achieve just the right amount of earthy flavor and an undercurrent of spicy heat, we use both sweet and hot paprika; if you aren’t able to find hot paprika, 2 teaspoons sweet paprika plus ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper is a fine substitution. Simple dumplings are a classic—and delicious—addition to this stew, but they are not essential. If you’d like to include them, see the recipe that follows; the dough is made and added to the pot at the end of cooking. If you skip the dumplings, mashed potatoes or warm, crusty bread are excellent accompaniments.

6

Servings

Tip

Don’t use double-concentrated tomato paste (the type often sold in tubes) or the stew will end up tasting too tomatoey. As you cook the tomato paste and vegetable mixture, don’t worry if the paste sticks to the pot and begins to darken; this browning helps build depth of flavor.

3 hours

50 minutes active

2½ pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater
2 medium parsnips, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater
3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems minced and leaves chopped, reserved separately
4 tablespoons tomato paste, divided
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sweet paprika, divided
1 tablespoon hot paprika (see headnote)
3 bay leaves
1 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons brown mustard
1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
Ingredients
  • pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 3
  • 2

    medium yellow onions, chopped

  • 2

    large carrots, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater

  • 2

    medium parsnips, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater

  • 3

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

  • 1

    bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems minced and leaves chopped, reserved separately

  • 4

    tablespoons tomato paste, divided

  • ¼

    cup plus 2 tablespoons sweet paprika, divided

  • 1

    tablespoon hot paprika (see headnote)

  • 3

    bay leaves

  • 1

    cup dry red wine

  • 2

    tablespoons brown mustard

  • 1

    bunch fresh dill, finely chopped

Directions

Slavonian-Style Shepherd’s Stew

More
Reviews
Katie L.
October 16, 2022
A Tasty Stew
I made this last year and was just reading the recipe thinking of making it on this nice fall day. I was blown away by how good this was last time.
David S.

99 % of Milk Street recipes are REALLY good. This is one of the rare exceptions. Not just bad but really bad. I'll go back to my standard pot roast.

Kevin S.

We were really excited to see this recipe; 7 months of staying at home has left us seeking out new flavors and new dishes. This, however, was very disappointing. Neither of us liked the dish at all: bland and uninspired, the vegetables didn't cook down into a thick, savory broth - it was much more like soup. Adding about 1/4 cup of diamond crystal salt, and about 3 tbs ground pepper to the finished dish made it more palatable (honestly, before that, it wasn't). But it still wasn't good. A waste of $40 worth of beef.

Mary B.

I made this last night and it was delicious. It was a flavor profile that I am not used to but both me and my husband really enjoyed it. It is not too labor intensive if you use a food processor to grate the carrots and parsnips.

maureen s.

Grating the carrots and parsnips was sort of a pain but doable. I made an error by putting the red wine and water in BEFORE adding the spices so that may have been why it was SO hot? It was too watery for a stew and I wasn't a fan of the taste. I disliked it so much I threw out the left overs. Thankfully it wasn't too expensive to make but this will go into my "won't make again" recipes.

Leslie D.

Did anyone find the amount of paprika overpowering? It felt like I was drinking paprika juice sprinkled with some beef. It's not bad, it's just that the paprika was a punch in the face. And I love paprika.

Sarah R.

Similar to with commenters, we thought that this was ok but not great. I used the tomato paste that I had which was the Mutti brand sold in MS's store. So our version ended up very tomato flavored and based on the remarks from other commenters, the tomato paste likely helped make the flavors more intense.

Mary B.

I successfully vegan-ized this recipe to positive ends. Substituted 1 c brown lentils + 1/2 lb veggie-ground-meat-replacement. After reading the many negative reviews re: too much tomato paste and paprika, I omitted the final additions of those ingredients. Results = excellent!

Michael M C.

Made this today and we thought it was delicious. Very flavorful. Not sure how some found it bland.

Judith M.

This was a very interesting dish. We found it flavorful. Was surprised how soup-like it was. Served with crusty olive bread and a side salad. Making this dish for two people has given us three meals this week. My depression era parents raised me well. For the second meal, pan roasted baby bella mushrooms, added to stew while it reheated, served over wide egg noodles. For the third meal added oven roasted parsnips and carrots during last half hour of reheating. This third meal was the best and most flavor full with very tender meat. Will make again not sure how to thicken the liquid and would add roasted mushrooms, parsnips and carrots. Do the dumplings absorb some of the liquid and therefore the stew would be less soup like?

Mary Beth E.

You could thicken by coating the meat cubes with flour and browning prior to sweating the veggies. An alternative is to make a 1 to 1 mixture of soft butter and flour (a classic French technique called beurre manie). I'm guessing 2 Tbsp flour to 2 Tbsp of butter would be a good place to start.

Mary Beth E.

If I had read the comments prior to making this I would have gone ahead and made the adjustments that I felt might be warranted. However when I make a recipe from a culture or cuisine that I'm not familiar with I usually give it a go as is. If making again I would brown the meat first and set aside, substitute smoked paprika for a part of the paprika (I used fresh high quality paprika but it simply doesn't have enough complexity of flavor to carry a dish for me). I'm thinking if this dish is traditionally cooked over an open fire it likely does pick up some smoky flavors even if smoked paprika is not a thing in Slavonia. The dumplings were also disappointing, not nearly as light and puffy as others I've made. I did like the use of grated root vegetables as a "thickener". In a food processor they go like a flash.

Michael S.

I enjoyed this one. If you do not like paprika do not bother. I removed meat and cooked sauce down a little before adding herbs. End result was that good not too burning paprika heat. I served a cultured sour cream on the table for those who wished to cool it down...if you mixed it in sort of reminded me of beef paprikash. Also, had a great baguette that was perfect for cleaning the bowl. I would make it again

Katie L.

I just recently realized there are comments on here, lol, and I still forget to look for them before I decide to try a recipe. So when I read them today after committing to making this, I wasn't thrilled. Did a little research on the authenticity of the recipe to get me excited.. Just finished with this stew and it's good! Different, spicy, and both the man and man child are digging in. Enjoyed cooking it too.

rhonda s.

I made this for dinner. Not a cussine I am familiar with, this was a welcome change.I have seldom made dumplings, and I've not eaten this much paprika and parsley in tandem - Ever! The flavors were so rich and the parsley functioned as a vegetable in the dish. The podcast version of this was simpler, so I didn't have all of the ingredients listed. It still was delicious. I'm looking forward to making this with all the things I left out. Thanks for this introduction to Slavonian food.

Leah B.

Can someone please clarify if the brown mustard is dry ground mustard or a prepared mustard like Dijon? Thank you!

Lynn C.

Hi Leah -

Brown mustard is prepared mustard. The most popular brand you will find in most supermarkets is Gulden's.

Best,
The Milk Street Team