Istrian Ham (Pršut)
Istrian Ham (Pršut)
Istrian ham is highly regarded by gourmands worldwide due in large part to our strict adherence to a long tradition of respectful production - from the careful way pigs are raised, to the elaborate treatment of the meat, to its curing with a unique blend of spices that give the ham its distinctive fragrance. Since Istrian ham is produced without nitrites, nitrates or smoke, which also contains noxious chemicals, it is considered one of the most healthful cured meats in all of the Mediterranean.
Methods for removing the skin, using the ''kasela'' (wooden form), creating a rub with salt, pepper, laurel, rosemary and sometimes garlic, and drying the ham in the bura (cold, north-eastern wind) remain closely guarded secrets unique to each farmer. Normally dried for one year, slices of young Istrian ham are heated in olive oil and finished with a splash of malvasia. At Easter, part of the shoulder-joint or ‘’špaleta’’ is boiled while the other part is slowly roasted on a rotisserie. In Istrian tradition, one meal each day typically includes pork.
The smoked fillet (zarebnjak, ombolo, žlomprt)
Without question, one of the most important specialties of traditional Istrian cuisine is pork. Slaughtering and butchering the pig was a ceremonious ritual in rural households, yielding ten to fifteen products to be enjoyed for weeks or months. Today, fewer pork products are prepared with the most important being the pork thick neck (zarebnjak, ombolo or žlomprt), sausage (kobasice) and streaked bacon (panceta).
Pork thick neck is commonly known as Zarebnjak, ombolo or žlomprt. The meat is separated from the bone in one piece and rubbed with salt, ground pepper and finely crumbled laurel leaves before being left to dry for two to three weeks. It is served in thin slices as a cold meat, cooked on the grill or sautéed with olive oil.
Istrian sausages (kobasice)
Istrian sausages are made from choice pork meat spiced with a mixture of salt, pepper and wine, in which are boiled few bulbs of garlic, a pair of laurel leaves and a small branch of rosemary. The liquid poured over the meat which is then well mixed and stuffed into sausage casings.
The sausages are dried for fifteen days and normally prepared on the grill, boiled with cabbage, broiled with eggs or, when sufficiently dry, served “raw”.
The streaked bacon (panceta)
Streaked bacon is traditionally made the same day the pig is slaughtered. The distinction between streaked and back bacon would be made with an incision at the hips. The streaked bacon is rubbed with salt, ground pepper and finely crumbled laurel leaves before drying for about fifteen days.
In some areas of Istria it is dried as a slab, while in other areas it is rolled and tied or put in a thick casing to preserve its rolled form.