Pirot Ironed Sausage
Cured Meats and Meat By-products - Serbia
Pirotska peglana kobasica
Pirot ironed sausage belongs to the sudzuk type, more or less hot sausages made of fermented meat of older animals - cattle, sheep, donkeys, goats, etc. The weight ratio of different types of meat has never been strictly defined, but pork meat is never used.
The carefully selected pieces of goat, sheep, beef and donkey meat, such as shoulder, ham, chop and fillet, are commonly used raw materials for making ironed sausages. They can be used in combination, for example, goat and beef, or just one type. All blood vessels, fat and tallow are extracted from meat which is ground and mixed with spices. The combination of spices is the secret of every individual craftsman. Garlic and crushed pepper are frequently used. Ironed sausage should be hot or at least lightly spicy. Producers are resistent to creating a unifying recipe because it is believed that the variety of recipes, and especially meats used, represent distinct individuality and character of the local population.
The ends of the sausages are linked to each other immediately after filling the natural small intestines with mixture of meat and spices and then dried. The optimum drying temperature should be between -5 and +5 °C. The best time to make this sausage is from late November to late December when these conditions are naturally provided. During the one month drying, the sausages are ironed, usually using empty bottle every two or three days. Doing so gently stirs the contents and expells water and air. The final thickness of the sausage is 1.5 cm. It is sliced at angle of 75° and thickness of 1 mm before serving.
It is thought that this type of sausage is part of the Ottoman heritage, because the sausages with similar composition are present in today's Turkey, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Sandzak in Serbia. However, Pirotians are very proud of their specialty, they find it unique and specific to their area and claim that the use of different meats was a result of the differing situation in every single household before winter. In order to save the forage in the winter or to provide selection and livestock categorization, all non-productive domestic animals from a herd or flock were slaughtered and prepared in various forms of durable meat products.
Recently, the Pirot ironed sausages have become more promoted. Because of this interest, the market is growing. Also recently, a local organization of producers was established and the International Competition in Iron Sausage Production was established as yearly event. The main reasons the Pirot ironed sausage is at risk of disappearing are its high price and issues relating to the inconsistency of the supply of raw materials (meats) to produce large quantities of sausage following one standardized recipe.