Govedi smotuljci {rolled beef}

Govedi smotuljci {rolled beef}

This is a dish that clutches to my vague memory of being a youngster obediently sitting with mum, dad and siblings chowing on simple Croatian stodge after a hard day at school. A recent phone conversation with my mother, it’s often about food, somehow dwelled on this particular dish that I only remembered having after I made it and ate it.

It’s amazing how a certain flavour and texture can trigger a memory so this was one definite case in point and pretty damn close to what I had at Cheeky Czech a couple of months ago. Just not as rich. I guess it’s an Eastern European thing or perhaps a family recipe passed down from mums distant Hungarian heritage.

Whatever the source may be this ultra simple dish is a roll of thin beef, preferably veal, filled with diced bacon and cornichons and sauced-up with a savoury vegetable concoction. A bit of potato, rice or bread on the side and you’ve got yourself a dish that was a piece of my past. This is my interpretation of what mum used to make, and probably still does.

Govedi smotuljci recept

Govedi smotuljci recept

govedi smotuljci

serves 4  (makes 10-12 rolls)


  • 600 g veal or beef slices, rump or round
  • 4 tbsp chopped onion
  • 4 tbsp chopped bacon
  • 2 tbsp chopped cornichons

for the sauce:

  • 1½ onions, chopped
  • ½ red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1½ tbsp flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp Vegeta, or vege stock powder
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped


Pound the slices of veal to 3 mm thickness and cut to approximately 12 cm lengths. Season each slice with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a small bowl combine the chopped onion, bacon and cornichon.

Sprinkle about a teaspoon of the mixture at the end of each slice of veal and carefully roll each slice to a cigar shape. Secure the sides with toothpicks.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, splash in a little olive oil and seal each roll quickly, but don’t cook all the way through. Remove and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the frying pan and gently sauté the onions, capsicum, celery and garlic until soft. Add the flour and mix through well. Add the water, Vegeta and pepper. Return the seared rolls to the sauce and simmer very gently for 15-20 minutes, turning once to cook through. Throw in the parsley just before serving.

Serve hot with cooked rice, potatoes or crusty bread. Go for a salad if you feel like a light meal.

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