After a tiring day on the field, meadow or in the forest, nothing feeds the body and soul better a warm and tasty čobanac, the Slavonian stew prepared in a cauldron or large pot. It is considered as a dish from the Slavonian pastures, and just as its name says, it was prepared by čobani – shepherds, as a filling and nutritious meaty meal which has simmered over a fire for several hours.
Čobanac is most often made for many people, it is tastiest when eaten with good company, and is also excellent when left to stand for a while. Several kinds of meat are hidden in čobanac, mostly pork and beef, and sometimes wild game or lamb.
The meat is added one by one depending on the toughness, so first is the wild game, and then the beef and pork. Many vegetables such as onion, carrots, celeriac root and parsley plus fresh tomatoes, and essential are the addition of seasonings such as bay leaves, salt, pepper and, of course, ground sweet and hot red peppers which give čobanac its familiar red colour.
One of the main characteristics of this dish is, of course, its spiciness, which, besides the ground pepper, is enhanced by the added dried spicy chilli peppers. Čobanac is cooked slowly, so the chopped meat is first sautéed in pig fat, on which the vegetables are then fried. For an excellent aroma, wine is added to the pot in which the meat and vegetables are braised together. By adding beef stock, the čobanac becomes richer, and when it is prepared at home, gnocchi or filling potatoes are most often cooked in this stew. Čobanac is finished and ready to serve when the vegetables are almost falling apart and all the meat is tender.
Today there are many competitions in the preparation of this speciality, and the special charm it holds is its long preparation and the gathering around an open fire and the hanging cauldron which bubbles and fills the air with the smells of the spices and cooking meat.