Gourmet diaries with a culinary classic - pork

In Croatia, pork is commonly associated with the feeling of significance and decorating our tables. When it comes to culture and gastronomy, pork has been the mainstay of the traditional dining table.

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Traditional food that will always bring back memories is the apex of every family get-together, as well as of all of the important life moments. That’s why pork was unimaginable in Croatia. Autumn is the season of kolinje (pig slaughter), a top culinary event used to prepare meat delicacies for the entire winter.

Even though pork delicacies are available all year-round these days, autumn specialties made from this oldest meat classic recreate the feeling of our cosy homes, add a dash of holiday mood and the significance of the moment.

But first things first. Spit-roasted suckling pig is one the main winter specialties with Lika being by far the most well-known region where they prepare this delicacy. Our search for the best spit-roasted suckling pig led us to Lika where we visited the restaurant Zlatna potkova, which is widely known for its rendition of this delicious dish. Chef Andrea Skukan let us in on the secrets of a good spit-roasted suckling pig.

When choosing the suckling pig, it’s important to pay attention to the fact that it’s not too fatty or heavy. They’re best when they’re three months old and weigh 25 or 26 kilogrammes. It’s important to salt the suckling pig using coarse sea salt prior to roasting. You also need to prepare the wood for the fire with beech wood being the best one. Depending on its weight, the suckling pig is roasted for three or four hours. It’s commonly served with boiled potatoes or potato halves. It’s served with sauerkraut during autumn or winter. Guests love spit-roasted suckling pigs so we roast at least four of them per week.

Slavonian pork charcuterie products have a protected designation of origin and are definitely the trademarks of Croatian gastronomy. We checked out just how common they are in the kitchens of our restaurants. Baron von der Trenck stake, which has been prepared for head chefs for over fifty years, is the symbol of restaurant Grgin dol in Požega. As time went by, the original recipe was altered. Today it’s prepared by head chef and restaurant manager Marijana Pranić.

First you smear the pork leg stake with ajvar. Then you slice some homemade Slavonian bacon, the boiled egg is sliced into four parts and they’re placed on the stake. The stake is then folded and fastened together with toothpicks on all sides. The stake is then deep-fried for a while and drained to get rid of excess oil. We add some onion and penny bun mushrooms to another pot and sauté them adding beef broth at the same time. Everything is cooked until the sauce has reduced and thickened. In the end we add some homemade sour cream and the Baron von der Trenck stake. When everything’s done, we cut the stake into halves and serve it with rice, potatoes, gnocchi or mashed potatoes.

The restaurant manager at Grgin dol also revealed their pork stake in a piquant Slavonian sauce recipe.

They add ham, kulen, a boiled egg, pickled cucumbers, ajvar and tomato juice to prepare the Slavonian sauce.

The well-known Restaurant Cocktail from Sisak has come up with an interesting combination of pork loin and cracklings. Aside from products stemming from local family farms, you can also try the best wines from the Moslavina region. Head chef and restaurant co-owner Goran Kramarić told how to use cracklings to make a crispy crust.

We add some salt and pepper to the pork loin’s middle section. Then we make the crackling crust while the meat is left to stand. First we chop the cracklings and then we add some thyme, cornflakes, bread crumbs and a bit of fresh rosemary. The pork loin is first rolled into flour, followed by eggs and the cracklings mixture. The pork loin is pan-fried at first, and then we oven-bake it for twelve minutes at 190 °C. Once the pork loin is done, we slice it, add some salt and pepper and sprinkle it with olive oil. The pork loin with cracklings is served with potatoes and Muštarda sauce or roasted peppers salad. With this specialty, we always recommend white wine, namely Škrlet produced by Voštinić Klasnić winery.