Welcome to the land of Zadar, where the sea breeze stirs Pag Island's culinary secrets
The young, inventive Croatian chef Ivan Turković from Restaurant Kaštel in Hotel Bastion, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, creates a signature Dalmatian dish of Pag island lamb with au gratin potatoes using local herbs and cheese curds to showcase Zadar and its surrounding region's culinary delicacies.
As chef of the illustrious Restaurant Kaštel in the iconic Hotel Bastion, Ivan Turković works amid a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a bounty of fresh ingredients that would be the envy of any chef. Surrounding Zadar — the oldest continuously inhabited city in Croatia — are five national parks, spectacular beaches, and idyllic islands, including Pag. This island is the source of ingredients and inspiration for this luxe lamb and potatoes combination chef Turković is sharing.
The dish starts with Pag lamb, which tastes unlike any other in the world due to a diet that includes grazing on wild herbs like thyme, sage, and rosemary. The herbs are naturally salted due to a phenomenon known as bura (or bora), a strong wind that blows the Adriatic's salt across the island. To enhance the meat's natural flavour, chef Turković uses more local salt and herbs with Croatian olive oil in a simple, bone-in preparation, allowing the lamb to shine.
Download recipe: Priceless Cookbook - Pag Island lamb with au gratin potatoes
Chef Turković pairs this delectable dish with his take on au gratin potatoes, featuring local Pag cheese and cheese curds made with some of the planet's most superior sheep's milk. Like its meat, Pag sheep's milk is naturally salted from the sea winds, so its cheese needs no added salt. The most acclaimed variety is called Paški sir, while the curds are known locally as puina, and they comprise two of Croatia's finest delicacies. With the addition of salt, pepper, olive oil, and creamy mascarpone, chef Turković transforms potatoes into melty magnificence with local flavours centre stage.
You may not find the exact Pag lamb, herbs, and cheese that chef Turković uses in these recipes, so feel free to substitute the local lamb and sheep's milk cheese you might find in your own market. Follow the same preparation methods for similarly satisfying results when cooking this spectacular meal for loved ones this holiday season.
Pag Island lamb with au gratin potatoes
SERVING SIZE: 4
- 5kg lamb with bones
- 1kg potatoes
- 150g Pag curd
- 50g mascarpone
- 80g grated Pag cheese
- 10g salt
- Olive oil
1. Remove all bones from the lamb and cook the demi glace from the bones.
2. Slice the meat and season as desired with the listed spices.
3. Vacuum the meat in a bag and cook overnight at 85°C.
4. After the meat is cooked, chop it and place it between two bowls under high weight to squeeze and cool.
5. After that, we cut the meat into the desired shape and finish it on the grill.
6. Cut the potatoes as desired and boil it in salted water.
7. Mix it with all the listed ingredients and bake in the oven at 190°C.
8. 14 min depends on the type of oven.