By Joseph Orovic
The Croatian population of Queens continues to
grow, and while none of the Croatian eateries
you see will likely be open on Christmas Day,
odds are someone you know will go through the
same ritual I have known my entire life.
Offered below isn’t reflective of the
whole Croatian palate. The nation itself can
be divided into two very general regions - the
Dalmatian coast and the inland area of Slavonia.
Each has traditions reflective of its geographic
resources, and is equally represented here.
But each home had its own interpretation. As
is typical of Croatians, their resourcefulness
transferred over to the kitchen, where a family’s
means dictated how well they ate. So if the
recipes seem sparse, understand they’re
boilerplates. What makes it special is your
Clear Beef Soup
2 lbs. of beef
1 beef bone
2 quarts of water
1 whole carrot
1 celery stalk
1/2 an onion
1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1 bay leaf
Chop up the veggies and beef toss it all together
to simmer for two hours. Strain out the vegetables
and meat to get the clear stock. My father (a
restaurant denizen) would redden the stock with
about one teaspoon of tomato paste and toss
in spaghetti that has been broken into eighths.
Include the strained veggies and meat as desired.
Served piping hot; it’s a non-filling
starter that would hold one over until the main
Roast Turkey with Mlinces
For the turkey:
1 medium-sized turkey
1/2 stick of melted butter
salt and pepper to taste
For the mlinces:
4 cups of flour
1/2 cup of water
1 teaspoon of salt
Season the turkey inside and out with salt
and pepper. Place it in a large roaster and
pour melted butter over it, with 1 cup of water
at the bottom of the roaster. Cover and roast
for 20 minutes per pound, then uncover and bake
for another hour. Baste with pan drippings often.
When the turkey finishes, set aside the pan
While the turkey roasts, combine the eggs, water,
salt and flour and work it into dough. Knead
the dough on a well-floured board until it is
smooth and firm. Cut into four pieces and roll
them until as thin as possible.
Put each sheet on a warming plate and heat on
the lowest setting until each side begins to
turn a golden brown. Allow them to cool and
When all of the sheets are done, break them
into crispy little pieces (look at the bottom
of a bag of tortilla chips if you need guidance),
then put in a bowl and pour boiling water over
them. Allow to stand for five minutes then strain.
Put the mlinces on a plate and pour the pan
drippings from the turkey over them, and toss
the turkey on top. (Note that Croats don’t
carve turkey in the slicing American style.
We chop it up into meaty, hulking chunks).
In the plains of Slavonia, where thick gravy
and stuffing is virtually unknown, this dish
is a humbler – and healthier – replacement
for what we do to ourselves on Thanksgiving.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cup flour
1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
3 tablespoons dark rum
zest and juice of lemon
Combine the sugar, milk, salt and butter in
a double boiler. Then throw that into a mixer
along with the rest of the ingredients and mix
until the dough is soft but not sticky.
Roll the dough out into a 1/8 inch thick sheet
and cut into 1” x 4” strips. Tie
each into a simple knot (phase one of tying
your shoes). Then throw into a deep fryer of
vegetable oil, turning them once until golden
Drain and allow to dry, then sprinkle with confectioner’s