Originating from Central America, corn is an annual plant that played that has played in important role in the sustaining the populace and their livestock throughout history. Moreover, it was used as a raw material for fuel and manufacturing and holds the distinction of being the world’s most exported plant. It’s assumed that it was first domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mexico about 10,000 years ago, while it made its way to Europe in the 15th century.
Across the Atlantic it’s mostly used in the famous chilli con carne or consumed roasted with a cheese and butter topping, while most of the candy industry is based on corn syrup.
Corn is extremely popular in our region, especially cornmeal which is used to make delicious breads and cakes such as kukuružnjača, zlevanka and bazlamača. It can often be found in local bakeries in numerous bakery products, while the smell of cornbread or zlevanka prepared by our grandmothers something we’re very much used to. When we were kinds, they often made us eat corn polenta. Nowadays this very same polenta is served with the finest dishes prepared by Croatia’s most prominent chefs.
At Vuglec Breg in Krapina they stick to traditional recipes so they use cornmeal to make polenta and zljevka, while cep mushrooms in cornmeal are a somewhat different specialty. Fresh cep mushrooms are fried in butter and sprinkled with cornmeal and seasonings, they’re served as a warm appetizer or they can also make an interesting garnish to meat dishes. Trout in cornmeal is yet another classic dish from Vuglec Breg’s menu. When it’s done, it gets a divine corn crust covering the tender and juicy meat.
Restaurant Verglec in Varaždin also sticks to safe-bet recipes such as polenta and cream, but they also offer a somewhat different rendition of zlevka. They prepare this traditional recipe using cream, sugar and walnuts.
Restaurant Klas in Koprivnica also decided to let us in on their corn-related culinary secrets. Millet kasha with sweet corn is their specialty. “In addition to other sautéed vegetables we prepare: onion, leek, fresh peppers, we also add corn followed by millet kasha, and our guests just love it. “Corn gives it that sweet flavour”, they tell us at Klas. Their corn offer also included the popular zlevanka, but this one is prepared with home-grown nettle. “We use nettle quite a lot, at our restaurant we have an entire programme called Zeleni obrok zdravlja (Green meal of health)”, they add.
When it comes to preparing corn, only the sky is the limit. In order to make sure you get the best possible salty and sweet corn dishes, home-grown cobs and homemade cornmeal are the best ones. Use your imagination and try one of these delicious dishes prepared by our traditional restaurants.