The Most Famous Tomato Sauce In Czech Cuisine Pairs Well With Beef

Originating from the center of Europe, Czech cuisine integrates components from many of its surrounding neighbors. Whether it's Hungarian goulash, or an almost French mushroom soup called kulajda, such a medley of influences especially shines in the country's numerous soups and sauces.

For a foray into the delicious world of Czech sauces, craft the aromatic rajská omáčka. A tomato-based creation, the dish has a pleasant tang, and a hint of sweetness, all underlaid with a rich-beef broth base. Each version is a little different, with chefs integrating a personalized bouquet of spices. Whether it's an allspice, bay leaf, or cinnamon rendition, the dish's floral flavors are bound to pop.

Served in a bowl alongside bread dumplings and a tender piece of boiled meat, rajská omáčka is comforting cooking at its best. Every bit of extra effort during preparation pays off in the result. Let's dive into how it comes together.

Making rajská omáčka from scratch

The key component to a delicious rajská omáčka lies less in the tomato component and more in the broth. While a store-bought beef broth can be used to create the dish, the three hours it takes to prep your own pays off. Start with a hearty medley of root vegetables — carrots, onions, parsley root, and celery. Add a chunk of beef, typically the top blade, and bring to the boil. Once simmering, spoon off any foam that forms, and add spices and seasoning. 

The assembly of the sauce itself starts with a roux. Onions, along with the raw root vegetables from the broth, are cooked in lard until soft. Next comes the essential addition: tomato paste. It's vital that tomatoes are introduced specifically in this form, or else they won't impart the right type of concentrated flavor. Flour is introduced, and browned for a minute until the mixture thickens.

Next comes a crucial part of the process: the introduction of the broth. To craft the sauce's delectable consistency, it's paramount that the liquid is poured in batches. During this step, consistent whisking eliminates most lumps. Next comes a round of seasoning, with sugar, vinegar, and the same spices used in the broth simmered into the mix. After around 20 minutes of reduction, the sauce is finally complete. It's sieved to create a smooth consistency and is now ready to be served.

How rajská omáčka is served

Before ladling the beautiful red sauce onto the plate, the omáčka can be adjusted based on personal preference. Some add cream, while others melt butter to enrich the texture. Salt, sugar, and pepper can all shift the flavor palette, crafting a distinct version of the sauce.

In the most classic rendition, the tomato sauce is spooned into a bowl and enjoyed alongside the humble bread dumpling dish houskové knedlíky. The sauce pairs well with beef, so you could use a piece from the broth preparation or a cut that has been separately prepared. A small parsley twig gives the dish a pop of color.

However, accompaniments to the sauce are malleable — anything from meatballs to stuffed peppers to rice can all be used to sop up the rich tomato flavor. Just don't confuse the dish with a pasta sauce. It's best enjoyed on the side rather than thoroughly mixed into a starch. And most importantly, craft enough for seconds, since diners will almost certainly want another round.