Shepherd's Steak (Bačovský Rezeň)

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Ingredients: half inch thick slices of pork (leg, shoulder or neck), bacon, smoked cheese, flour, milk, egg, oil, mashed potatoes
Prep Time: about 30 minutes

In Slovakia, people don’t generally eat meat the way steaks are eaten in America – seasoned and grilled on an open flame. Instead, a steak or schnitzel (rezeň) is typically a thin slice of meat, which has been tenderized, covered in some breading, and finally fried in oil. In this recipe, my grandma will show you how she prepares one kind of steak, bačovský rezeň. The name means bača’s steak. Slovakia is a mountainous country. As such, traditionally many Slovaks were shepherds. The head shepherd, who was responsible for tasks like making bryndza, oštiepok (smoked cheese) and parenica (steamed cheese), is called bača. This is his steak, the king of steaks.

steaks bacon
Start by tenderizing the meat slices (kúsky mäsa). Few pounds on a single side are sufficient. Also take slices of bacon (slanina) and fry them until the fat starts getting translucent.

salt the steaks brown steaks
Lightly salt the steaks and brown from each side. Place the bacon on top of one steak so it doesn’t burn.

cook meat cesticko
We will pre-cook the steaks before frying. This is the secret to a great rezeň. Otherwise, you risk the breading burning before the meat is done. Cover the steaks in water, and let cook covered for 5 minutes. In the mean time, prepare the dough (cestíčko) by combining flour (múka), milk (mlieko) and an egg (vajce). I forgot to record the proportions, but basically you want the dough to be roughly the consistency of pancake batter. It should be liquid, but fairly viscous.

steak bacon cheese dip in batter
Top each steak with one or two slices of bacon and one slice of smoked cheese (údený syr). Dip all three pieces together in the batter. Use the fork to spread the batter on top.

fry from each side bacovsky rezen - breaded steak with bacon and cheese
Fry in hot oil. Carefully flip over using two forks. Poking the pieces together helps with turning. Serve topped with tartar sauce (or sour cream) with a side of mashed potatoes (zemiaková kaša), pickles, apricots or mandarin oranges. One trick I learned from my grandma: dip the spoon in oil before scooping the mashed potatoes. They won’t stick!