Prosciutto and Parma ham in Italy, jamon in Spain, and prsut in the Balkans: this is how a meat delicacy is called. One cannot get a complete picture of the national cuisine without trying it.
Prsut: Balkan marvel
Montenegrin prsut is pork ham smoked in a special way, flavored with spices by family recipes handed down from generation to generation. Therefore, the best prsut is a homemade dish, rather than one from the store.
Like any meat, it is very nutritious and rich in calories: the caloric content of one hundred grams of prsut is 250 to 330 Kcal – this is why they traditionally have it for breakfast in the Balkan countries to get enough energy for the first half of the day. They treat guests with this delicacy as well – there are always several dishes with meat on any festive table.
The technology of making prsut is complex and time-consuming – this may explain the relatively high cost of the product: the price for a kilo of prsut starts from 20 euros. Much depends on the time of meat cooking: the longer it is, the higher the price.
Having bought a weighty ham on vacation in Montenegro to bring it home, tourists inevitably wonder how to store prsut. However, there are no difficulties: the smoked meat can be stored for a long time in a dry and cool place – about a year. So you can take your time to consume such a large piece of delicacy.
Serving prsut to the table is an art: you need to cut the meat into thin, translucent slices, and then decorate it with onions, olives, and cheese. Montenegrins sometimes replace this side dish with melon – it is also very tasty.
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Croatian prsut: Istrian and Dalmatian
They cook prsut not only in Montenegro: variations of dried meat can be met in any of the Balkan countries: Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and others. The technology may have its own local features: for example, prsut in Croatia is not just charqued but dried pork, which is never smoked.
All this results in the elite delicacy of an amazing ruby color: lightly salted, with a natural pork smell, free from any additives.
Dalmatian prsut is cooked in a completely different way: it must be smoked on oak charcoal and only after this it is dried in the wind and under the sun for nine to fourteen months.
Pigs in Dalmatia, the middle and southern parts of Croatia, where they cook the delicacies, graze in mountain meadows and feed on acorns from the oaks growing there – perhaps, this determines the special taste of unusually soft and tender meat.
If you opt for prsut, then choose only Njeguši!
Who knew about the small Montenegro village Who would know about a small Montenegrin village Njeguši, if not for the talent of its inhabitants to cook delicacies known worldwide – Njeguši prsut? Here, at an altitude of 1,000 meters above sea level, thirty masters (this is exactly how many of them remained in Njeguši) work to create their masterpieces.
- They use the meat of old pigs for Njeguši prsut because it is drier – just what is needed to make the world’s best meat delicacy. In late autumn, pork hams are dipped in a special pickle, kept there for about two weeks, and then piled on top of each other to squeeze out excess water. It takes another two weeks, and only then the ham is smoked.
- The meat is smoked for at least four months in special rooms with smoky bonfires, where they use beech or oak coal.
- Further drying takes about a year, and Njeguši prsut is dried in the mountain air, which is famous for its extraordinary crystal clarity and freshness.
Njeguši prsut is served not only as an independent snack cut into thinnest slices and rolls, but is also added to various salads.
Below is a sample recipe for a salad with prsut:
- Prsut – 100 g
- Cucumber – 1 pc.
- Tomato – 2 pcs.
- Feta cheese – 1 pack
- Olives – 10 pcs
- Olive oil – 2-3 tablespoons
- Vinegar, spices, herbs, if you like
Cut all ingredients into cubes or stripes, add salt, herbs, spices, sprinkle with olive oil, and mix.
Pork tenderloin in prsut also tastes great: to cook it, wrap the fillets pre-fried in a pan into ham, sprinkle with fennel, coriander, cumin, and pepper, and then bake the roll in the oven.
Prsut gives pork an exclusive taste and does not allow the juice to flow out, so you get an original hot dish in the end.
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Where to buy prsut in Europe?
Where to buy prsut in Europe? This is indeed a king of tasks, although you can find ready-made vacuum-cut meats, which manufacturers call prsut, in the meat departments of some supermarkets.
- In fact, the best prsut really made in Montenegro, Croatia, or Serbia, is brought to order by truck drivers and tourists.
- Another option, though very expensive, is to buy a delicacy in European restaurants of Balkan cuisine.
- And, of course, you can order it online – there are quite a few dealers in Europe who are engaged in wholesale and retail sales.
Prsut, whether it is Montenegrin, Croatian, Slovenian, or Serbian, is a real gift for meat gourmets who appreciate the natural taste of meat cooked without any tricks and additives.
That is why tourists carry heavy bags with huge pork legs when returning from a holiday in the Balkans, spreading aromas of dried or smoked pork, to savor the famous Balkan delicacy at home.