We have adapted this Croatian lamb peka recipe, from traditional cooking under the bell with hot embers to being slow-cooked in the oven.
We make it possible for everyone to bring the flavours of this Croatian national dish at home.
Melt in the mouth diced lamb cooked together with potatoes, vegetables, garlic, herbs, oil and white wine for 2 hours. This one-pot dinner recipe is Croatian food at its best; you'll love it!
What is a traditional peka?
A traditional Croatian lamb peka is a dinner recipe that the local's living along the Dalmatian Coast cooks at home for their family in an outdoor fireplace.
Lamb, Octopus, Chicken, Veal or Fish with potatoes and vegetables, drizzled with olive oil and wine in a cast iron or earthenware pot, placed over a fire and covered with a dome-shaped lid - known in Croatia as ‘ispod čripnje'.
The pot is covered with hot coals and embers over the top and slowly cooked under the bell for around 1 ½ hours, before more oil is added and cooked for 30 minutes more.
We are always keen to try the national dishes on our travels. In 2019 we went to Croatia, we came across a hidden gem of a restaurant, Tavern Donja Banda in Vrsine, near Split.
They had a fantastic choice of traditional Croatian food. We pre-booked our Lamb Peka, as 3 hours notice is needed to cook the national dish!
It was amazing and we also really enjoyed the locally produced white wine they served too!
How to make Croatian Lamb Peka in the oven?
See our step by step slide show for how to make a Croatian Lamb Peka in the oven.
You will find ingredients and instructions on the recipe card below.Jump to Video
Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of an outdoor open fireplace. Although I know Luke would love one, our garden is not big enough to justify it! Besides, we don't get good enough weather to enjoy much Al Fresco cooking!
It is, for this reason, we made this Croatian recipe in the oven. It may not be cooked in the same way but, nevertheless it still utterly delicious!
Potatoes - We used small charlotte potatoes, but you can use any firm potatoes, including Jersey Royals, Viktoria, Anya or Yukon Gold. If using larger potatoes, chop them first.
Vegetables – We used a lot of vegetables, courgette, carrot, pepper green, aubergine, red onion.
Feel free to use less or experiment with other vegetables of your choice.
In true Mediterranean fashion, a lot of olive oil is needed for this dish.
I am not sure what special extras the Croatians added to their Peka, we decided to flavour ours with sundried tomato puree, garlic puree, black pepper and salt, mixed in with plenty of olive oil.
You can buy diced lamb for this recipe. Or cut big chunks of lamb off the leg or shoulder.
Although we have chosen to use lamb, you can switch for Octopus, Chicken, Veal or Fish.
Pour the olive oil and puree mix all over the lamb and vegetables,
Followed by white wine, pour yourself a glass too. There is going to be a long wait for this slow-cooked dinner!
Next, choose your favourite herbs; we used a mixture of sage, thyme and rosemary.
The rosemary and thyme stalks need to be easy to find so you can remove them towards the end of cooking.
We used our cast iron dish, which comes with a lid; you can use a lidded casserole dish or cover it with kitchen foil instead. Slow cook in the oven for 1hr 30.
Whilst it's cooking, why not have a go at making your own loaf of bread to go with it!
Remove lid and herb stems, stir through 2 tbsp of olive oil and cook for another 20-30 minutes without the lid.
Serve up your Croatian Lamb Peka straight from the dish with a loaf of crusty bread.
Sliced fresh bread is perfect for soaking up the flavoursome olive oil.
We love that this recipe has the whole meal in one, tender pieces of lamb, potatoes and plenty of vegetables all full of flavour from the garlic and herbs.
Croatian Lamb Peka
- 600 grams Potatoes (1.3lb) waxy potatoes (we used charlotte potatoes)
- 1 Courgette chopped chunky
- 1 Carrot large chopped
- 1 Pepper green chopped chunky
- 1 small Aubergine chopped chunky
- 1 large Onion chopped chunky
- 850 gram Diced lamb (1.8lb) shoulder or leg of lamb (deboned and cut into nice size chunks) or buy already diced
- 1 tbsp Gia Garlic Puree or finely chopped fresh garlic
- 1 tbsp Gia Sundried Tomato Puree or tomato puree
- 80 ml Olive oil (⅓ cup) + extra 2 tbsp for the last step
- Thyme, rosemary and sage you can choose other fresh herbs you like
- 250 ml White wine (1 cup)
- Black pepper and salt seasoning
- Preheat oven to 200°C fan / 220°C / 425°F / Gas mark 7If you have not bought diced lamb, cut your lamb shoulder or leg into large chunks and place to one side.
- Make oil marinade - Mix 80ml of olive oil in a bowl with garlic puree, sundried tomato puree ,black pepper and salt.
- Add potatoes and vegetables into a large lidded casserole dish.
- Place diced lamb on top of the vegetables, pour the marinade and wine over the top.
- Add the rosemary, thyme and sage, trying to keep the herbs on top. So you can easily remove the herb stalks once cooked.
- Place lid on the casserole dish and cook for 1hr 30 minute If you do not have a lid cover very well with kitchen foil
- Take the lid off, remove any thick herb stems. Stir in 2 tbsp of olive oil.Cook for a further 20-30 mins.
- Serve with fresh homemade bread to dip into the juices.
This post was originally published on 15/11/2019 and has been modified on 16/05/2021 with updated step by steps, new photos and video for creating this Croatian national dish, Lamb Peka recipe.