The family celebrates together!
Saturday, Vanja’s brother’s family came as they were returning from their summer holiday to see the fruits of our labour at Petar’s house, and to spend one day together before we leave. Of course, the only meal to be served on such a special occasion in the summer is Petar’s famous rostilj better known throughout the country at the traditional Serbian Grilled Meat Platter. Versions of this meal can be ordered in every restaurant throughout the Balkans. It is a carnivore’s delight.
Meat. Meat. And more meat.
Whole grilled chickens, lots and lots of pork neck tenderloin cutlets, at least a kilo of cevapi, and the traditional Serbian BBQ sausage. The chicken and pork are grilled with ample fatty chunks or Petar’s smoked bacon (slanina) on top for added flavour. The meat is seasoned with Vegeta (another Balkan staple) a few hours before grilling. The fire is lit with wood and kindling; the charcoal is spread on top until the embers glow and the ritual has begun.
A large pot filled with chopped onions is prepared for holding the meat as it cooks, and those very onions, drenched and poached in the warm meat juices, become the only salad traditionally served with this dish. Bring on the beer, the jokes, the laughter and the late afternoon sun fingers through the smoky splendor.
Above, the pork neck cutlets with slanina melting over each to provide the ultimate in fatty porky grilled goodness.
My gorgeous muscly and dimpled nephews, Mario and the once “Little Vanja”. Now, “my Vanja” is known as “the old man Vanja”, instead. 🙂
I prepared an “absolutely unnecessary” and ” we never serve this at a rostilj” mese plate of cheeses, slanina and kulen, another traditional cured Serbian sausage that I adore. I wanted to add some sunka to the plate, but that was “just so unnecessary”, that I didn’t. And really, though some enjoyed a bite of some of the goodies here, for the most part, it was returned to the fridge almost in tact to be brought out for breakfast in the morning.
The kulen is really delicious and, of course, mladi sir, or young cheese (the white delicate gelatinous cubes of young cheese), my favourite.
I am sure you would agree that the grilled meat “looks delectable”, yet I can guarantee you, unless you have had a traditional home grilled meat platter meal, you cannot imagine the flavour the combination of the melted smoked pork, vegeta, charcoal, and wood fire contributes to this meat.
Those are not European sausages, above. These are not made at home, but the tradition to add them to the smoked meat platter began about 50 years ago when they first started to be sold as cevapi is with lepinja (a traditional bread) at “fast food” or “street food” outlets throughout the region way back then… and were so well received and sought after, that they are sold in butcher stores and meat markets everywhere and grilled. They are always on a meat platter ordered in restaurants – and are mighty tasty, too. Fatty, yes. You don’t have to tell a Serbian, Bosnian or Croat that the flavour is in the fat. They have known that for centuries.
And with Lori’s mom’s homemade kifle and buns, with the traditional onion salad at the bottom of the meat pots, the meal is served.
I also prepared my famous roasted red pepper salad to share with the family. Apparently, “it is a winter salad” and “we would never eat this at this time of year”, but everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. It was clearly a royal treat and I do believe may now be a new family tradition for rostilj’s whenever I am there.
More laughter. Much eating. Much. Much.
The company came: Snezana, Nikola and Zoka.
And dessert is served: a massive fresh fruit salad in a huge jar I found in the shed to display the lovely layers of fresh fruit accompanied by cake and ice cream.
Oh, what a feast it was, it really was.
Lori washed the dishes after the meal at the outdoor sink while I was in bed having an after dinner nap.
The next morning, we shared early coffee together, packed up our car, took the traditional three generation photo – hugged, kissed, and said our good-bye’s as we drove off to the airport and home. Waving and crying all the way down the alley. Heart still hurting to be so far away, yet happy to know Petar is tucked into a warm, cozy clean home wrapped in hope with love and three little pigs to take care of – his garden to harvest, and lots and lots to do…..
and lots and lots to do…..
(In 2009, I wrote about Petar’s famous Rostilj, as well... and here, you can see Pava cooking in the Smokehouse… it is a quick read with lousy photos but a great view into the past.)