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Svíčková, or svíčková na smetaně (beef sirloin in cream sauce), is a typical Czech dish and one of the most popular Czech meals. It is sirloin prepared with vegetables (carrots, parsley root, celeriac and onion), spiced with black pepper, allspice, bay leaf and thyme, and boiled with double cream. It is generally served with houskové knedlíky (bread dumplings).
Beef (round or brisket) is marinated for up to three days before it is roasted and thickly sliced. A gravy is made from a part of this strained marinade, beef stock (optional) and sour cream. It is served with bread dumplings, rarely sauerkraut, and (as is currently done in the Czech Republic) sometimes cranberry sauce.
Bohemian immigrants to the United States following the First World War have passed on an older variation of the dish to subsequent generations, while regional tastes and product availability have influenced its preparation. Svíčková made in the Chicago area, for example, rarely includes vegetables in its final presentation, but instead incorporates them into a vinegar-based marinade suffused with crushed allspice and bay leaves.
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