In the hand-written cookery books of individual families in Split, which are handed down and added to from generation to generation, there can be found as many as 20 or so different recipes for one dish: pašticada.
This is a meat dish the preparation of which takes, in accordance with old recipes, days of patient preparation even before it comes close to the stove. In the first phase, meat is marinated in wine vinegar flavoured with different herbs. Pašticada is prepared from beef or yearling beef, mostly the muscle locally known as orah (walnut), although horse meat and large game are also used with equal success. In the second phase, the meat is well browned on all sides, and in the third phase it is gently stewed in gravy containing dried fruit, predominantly prunes, and a number of spices such as cloves, nutmeg, laurel leaf, pepper, with the addition of a little wine and prosecco being added from time to time. Old recipes insist that the dish not be eaten immediately after it is cooked, however long and over however gentle a heat it had been cooked. Pašticada, the old masters will tell us, must be allowed to cool slowly, be cut into chunks, browned again and only then served in its own strained juices.
Gnocchi, normally served with pašticada, must be cooked just prior to being served. Although traditional pašticadas have a very strong, full bodied flavour, it is not uncommon to grate some hard sheep cheese over the gnocchi.