Vevčani Mangulica Lukanec Sausage
Cured meats and meat products - North Macedonia
Pork and bacon from the Mangulica breed of black pigs are used the production of the traditional Lukanec sausage in the Vevcani region of western Macedonia. Meat from the ribs, bellies, shoulder, neck and head are all used, chopped by hand into 1 cm pieces. There is usually a ratio of 3:7 for bacon compared to other meat. The mixture is seasoned with sea salt, fresh red pepper (bukovec), dried and crushed red pepper, fresh leeks, fresh garlic and black pepper. This is all mixed in a large dish called a sherpa, then left to sit, refrigerated, for one or two days. After this time, the mixture is filled into 32 mm-diameter pork casings that are 20-25 cm long. Today this is done mechanically, but in the past was done by hand. Then, the sausages are placed in a chamber to be smoked with juniper and plum wood for 4-6 hours, a process that would take a period of one or two weeks when preformed in the home. The sausages are then kept at 0-4°C for about a week, after which they are ready for consumption. The finished Lukanec sausages can be stored refrigerated for up to 10 days, and is eaten after roasting or frying. Traditional Lukanec belongs to a family of handmade sausages from Macedonia. Its production is connected to the beginning of the Vevcanski Carnival, dating back 1400 years. The carnival celebrated the New Year according to the Julian calendar, and featured attendees in masks and costumes. During the carnival, all participants (called Vasilicari) are gifted with Lukanec sausages that have been made during the previous winter season. Today, this product is mainly made for home consumption or direct sales, and is not found in general markets. The local economy and livelihood of the people are based on animal husbandry. However, the difficult living and working conditions have led to high levels of migration to the surrounding towns or other regions. As a result, Vevcani has an increasingly aging population to maintain the area’s culinary traditions. Because the production process for making Lukanec is difficult, many younger people do not want to learn or continue its production.