What the Slavonian people most take pride in are certainly their cured meat products whose recognisability even goes beyond the borders nowadays. The Slavonian kulen is the absolute king of this part of the country, and the special place in the Slavonian cuisine also accounts for kulenova seka, buncek, dried ribs, greaves, chilli sausages, švargl (head-cheese), homemade divenice, and bacon. One better than the other, these products result from long-term work and commitment to tradition.
According to the original Slavonian recipe, one pig will only give one kulen, and the rest of the animal will be used for preparation of other delicacies of that region, until the last piece of meat is properly utilised. Pork shoulder blade or ham is most often used for preparation of sausages, with homemade pounded hot red pepper and a dose of garlic being the compulsory condiments. Immediately after the preparation, sausage is put for smoking and is smoked at least for one month, however, about nine months of drying and smoking would be desirable. Even though the preparation does not seem so complex, the Slavonians will say that it is about a very delicate job, and that it is the manner of preparation that will make kulen different from one to another family. Certainly, everybody makes it best in their own opinion.
When the best of the pork, shoulder or ham, is used to fill narrower sausages, it’s how kulenova seka is made, whereas greaves are the residue left after the rendering and pressing of lard. The preparation of divenice uses offal and skin, whereas head-cheese is made of boiled heart, skin, cheeks, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Every Slavonian sausage is made of pork, and Mangalitsa meat and meat of the Slavonan black pig is also popular.
While a visit of Slavonia cannot take place without tasting the autochthonous homemade cured meat products, leaving the most fertile part of the country almost never ends without such “souvenirs.” You can find them in favourite restaurants and with local farms.
Thus, the Dunav Hotel and Restaurant in Ilok serves the Slavonian kulen in as many as several variants but, admittedly, everybody likes it most as bites with other cold cuts and a delicious side dish.
“Our homemade kulen is a compulsory part of cold starters. It matches perfectly cheese, olives, and we also have kulenova seka and bacon. Except as a cold starter, we also serve kulen as part of the pork steak where we combine it with Feta cheese and mushroom sauce,” we were told at the Dunav Hotel.
The Kod Ruže Restaurant in Osijek is famous for its homemade specialties, and they disclosed to us how they combine cured meat products in countless combinations.
“We supply cured meat products from small producers, we love everything being homemade and natural. We have greaves, head-cheese, kulen, and kulenova seka. We serve all that as part of the starter, separately, or we fill steaks with such delicacies. For example, kulen matches perfectly homemade cheese and mushrooms, so that it is not only about cold starters, there is really everything here.”
And even then Slavonia seems rather far away, here we have somewhat closer restaurants whose offer has a compulsory whiff of Slavonia. One of them is Zagreb’s Šestinski Lagvić.
“We certainly have kulen in our offer. We serve it with hams, sausages, and cheese such as paški cheese, goat’s milk cheese and fresh cheese with cream. We also put kulen in our fine Zagorje soup,” Mr. Leko from the Šestinski Lagvić Restaurant told us.
Bites of homemade chilli sausages ideally match the winter, so ensure that you look for them in the menu of your favourite gastronomic venues.