Cured meats and meat products - North Macedonia
Podgorski sausages are dried and fried sausages stored in pork fat made from pasture raised pigs. Lower quality meat from the ribs and bellies (called paflak), neck bacon and head meat (called medaljoni) are all used in the production of these sausages. This meat is minced into pices 10-12 mm large, and sea salt, fresh red pepper (bukovec), fresh leek and black pepper is added. The mixture is immediately placed into 33 mm-diameter pork casings, and then Then the filled casings are put on a wooden rod and the sausages are dried over a wood-stove for two to three days. After drying, the sausages are grilled on a dogwood sticks that are tangled in a net for four or five hours. After that, the sausages are cooled and than cut to a length of 20-25 cm. Then the sausages are fried into pork fat in a period for one hour at a temperature of 150-160°C. Finally, they are placed into a large ceramic dish and hot pork fat is poured over them. They are stored this way at an ambient temperature until they are ready to be consumed, and can be kept for up to one year. Homemade Podgorski sausages come from the Strumica region of the eastern part of the Republic of Macedonia, and particularly the villages of Podgorje and Mokrievo. Its production is connected to the beginning of Stracinarski games, where games were held during the “unbaptized days” (the period from January 7 to January 19, the day of the baptizing of Jesus Christ). The games are still held each year on January 13 and 14. During the local Carnival, called Suvari, children are gifted Podgorski sausage. This sausage is not commercialized, due to the complex production and unique storage technique. It is only made for home consumption or direct sales. While the Stracinarski games regularly help keeping the tradition of Podgorski sausage production alive, on the other hand, depopulation and a majority elderly population of villages is typical nowadays. That means in the near future the traditional Podgorski sausage production maintained by these communities could very easily be lost.