Meso u Salamuri
Cured meats and meat products - Serbia
Meso u salamuri (literally “meat in brine”) is prepared from many kinds of meat (including pork, beef, mutton, and goat) and fish, in several different styles. Typically the meat is cured in salt, either dry or with water added, before being smoked and then preserved in pork fat. In eastern Serbia the salt curing phase traditionally took place in wooden buckets: The meat and salt were packed into the bucket and then covered with a piece of wood on which stones were placed, to press the meat. Salt curing lasts for several months, during which the meat must be uncovered and rotated several times to ensure an even cure. In spring and summer, in order to avoid bad fermentation, the dry salting method is preferable. After curing, the meat is lightly smoked and then stored in fat or turned into traditional pastrama (“pastrami”), which is seasoned with pepper and garlic for preservation and flavor. In another version, a whole pork loin is partially cooked in a brine of red wine and water, seasoned with coriander, black pepper, mustard seed, pine nuts, and minced carrot, parsley, and celery. After cooking it in the brine, the pork loin is cut into pieces and sealed in jars with the brining liquid. Before consuming it, meso u salamuri must be desalinated by soaking it in water. It is said that adding a piece of corn stalk to the water helps to extract the salt from the meat. Meso u salamuri is tender and intensely flavorful. It can be eaten cold, as an appetizer, or heated and served with vegetables. It can also be mixed with peppers and pan fried. Meso u salamuri was prepared in most rural households in eastern Serbia until the 1980s, after which time the practice was largely abandoned as refrigerators became more widely available and it was no longer necessary to use traditional methods of meat preservation. However, the production of meso u salamuri persists in certain remote areas and among the older generations, and pastrama is still produced in artisan shops. Although many people have forgotten the traditional techniques, and new food safety laws make small-scale commercial production difficult, the poor quality of mass-produced canned meat may inspire a revival of household production of meso u salamuri. Additionally, tourists in rural areas are expressing increasing interest in traditional, artisanal products.