Turkey with mlinci - a delicacy revered in Zagorje household

Hardly any household in north-western Croatia doesn’t consider turkey with mlinci (pasta tatters) to be a favourite delicacy for special occasions. Christmas and Easter lunch are eagerly anticipated because everyone knows that delicious homemade turkey meat is going to serve with juicy mlinci prepared to grandma’s traditional recipe.

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Turkey with mlinci has been a favourite dish for decades now. Our grandmothers still recall delicious turkey with crispy skins, tender meat and drenched mlinci from old-fashioned ovens, but we still love to prepare it to this very day, albeit in a somewhat modern rendition.

Turkey is best when it’s home-reared, well-bred with nice juicy meat seasoned with the finest seasonal spices. They prepare it in a classic way in Zagorje, i.e. the less complicated, the more delicious the turkey. The most important components are homemade lard, salt and pepper, while other seasonings depend on what the cook prefers. Buckwheat is sometimes added to dried aromatic herbs, which are then used to stuff the turkey, but we digress to some other, more complex but equally delicious traditions.

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Mlinci are best when they’re prepared as simple as possible, much like turkey. They’re made from just a few ingredients: flour, water and salt. When combined with delicious gravies, they make a side dish second to none. The best mlinci are the ones prepared on traditional wood-fired stoves with black spots formed by the heated stove surface thereby spreading the smell of dough around the house. But you can prepare them in an oven, which will make a more practical solution when it comes to your abundant holiday dinner.

Turkey with mlinci is such a classic dish that not only can it be found on menus of restaurants of Zagorje, but of entire central Croatia. Still, it’s most delicious when relished while enjoying the wonderful green hills and breathing in fresh Zagorje air. Grešna Gorica has it all. Given that most of their menu is composed of the region’s traditional specialties, their turkey with mlinci is by far one of the best ones we’ve had a chance to try.

- “When preparing turkey with mlinci our way, you don’t need any particular seasonings aside from salt. It’s vital that it be salted the evening before and it should be left to stand until the following day when it’s roasted. Naturally, it’s roasted in lard with a bit of water and then we add mlinci to that gravy. It takes about two hours to roast the turkey, but that depends on its size. We use home-reared ones and we mostly roast them for two hours. That’s about it, salt, lard and water hold the key to preparing the most delicious roast turkey”, Anđelka Koprivnik, chef at restaurant Grešna gorica revealed to us.

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At restaurant Bedem in Varaždin you can try out a somewhat modern rendition of turkey with mlinci. Their menu included a turkey roll stuffed with mlinci which is combined with sweet and salty additions. The dish’s modern appearance makes it more practical to enjoy. An entire specialty compressed to a single morsel? We can’t think of any reason why not.

- “What we wanted to accomplish with this dish is to take this classic dish to another visual level, as well as to make it easier for our guests to enjoy turkey with mlinci. We only use the turkey’s white meat and this dish goes great with our Varaždin cabbage with pumpkin oil, as well as other sweet combinations such as sautéed pears. Our restaurant is predominantly based on traditional dishes so this turkey roll with mlinci is one of our most sought after dishes”, Anđelko Levanić, manager of restaurant Bedem, told us.