One of those dishes that does not require special effort other than gathering selected ingredients, čobanac is most delicious when prepared on open fire during cold days, so it warms and rejoices you at the same time; we could very easily call čobanac the number one dish of Slavonija.
This dense goulash is made of at least three types of meat and must contain homemade ground pepper; then, additions like potatoes and dumplings are added in the cauldron. It is best when prepared with a high dose of patience so as to make the whole neighbourhood smell of it.
There are a few small secrets of the good čobanac, some of them being good quality of manually finely chopped onion, good homemade ground hot pepper, and several types of meat. The more meat is added to this traditional dish the richer it tastes and thus the more delicious it will be. Pork and beef are most often used, while one can also add lamb or game, though rarely, depending on the household that prepares čobanac.
There is no such a thing as mild čobanac, Slavonija locals will say. It is important to know how to season it well so that it warms even in the coldest days, and then, you can relish it with or without the company of others until the fire is out and the cauldron empty. Besides hot pepper, feferoni hot peppers are added at some places.
Slavonija locals are aware of that, so they have enlisted this magnificent dish in menus across the region. You can find true čobanac in the Baranjska Kuća and the Lug Hotel. One better than the other, in both places čobanac has some new secrets of special tastes.
At the Baranjska Kuća, a family run ethno-restaurant located at the Baranja village of Karanac, they say that they have čobanac in their offer throughout the year, and they serve it with one of their other favourite specialties.
“At our place, čobanac is prepared of pig’s trotters, beef cut in small cubes and a lot of onion. First, we braise the meat, we add water and more meat, and then hot pepper and a few feferoni hot peppers. We cook čobanac for about two hours and a half, depending on quantity. And that’s it, that’s our secret. Also, as we add feferoni hot peppers, our čobanac is somewhat hotter. We have it in our menu throughout the year and serve it with homemade cornbread, which we also bake ourselves,” said Vladimir Bajo Škrobo, the owner of the Baranjska Kuća property.
The Lug Hotel in Osijek also offers this timeless classical dish of the local domestic cuisine. They disclosed to us how they prepare it and what their favourite addition to this sumptuous spoon-eaten dish is.
“We prepare čobanac in that we first stew onion, then we add pig’s trotters and stew it slowly for about two hours. The more onion you add, the denser the dish. Čobanac must not be too dense, it is still a spoon-eaten dish, but it should still have a certain density. You simply know that when you see it. You add hot and mild pepper, tomato, salt, black pepper, laurel, and then pork chopped into small cubes. We prepare this dish for about three hours. Our secret ingredient is a spoon of homemade ajvar, which gives fuller taste. With čobanac, we serve dumplings that we make of flour, salt, eggs and water. Besides dumplings, our homemade noodles with cheese also match perfectly this dish,” Silvija, a chef in the Lug Hotel said.
Cold days call for spoon-eaten dishes, and if you happen to visit golden and sumptuous Slavonija, there is simply no better choice than homemade čobanac. Just relish it!