How To Make Čobanac At Home (Slavonian Meat Stew)

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Croatian Cooking: How To Make Čobanac At Home (Slavonian Meat Stew)

Čobanac or Čorbanac or even Pastirac is a slow-cooked stew traditionally prepared in the eastern part of Croatia, especially in Slavonija and Baranja.

The name comes from the shepherds as they are called “Čoban” or “Pastir”. It’s prepared with 2-3 different types of meat such as a wild game, pork or beef. It’s originally made in a big kettle over a campfire.

As Baranja is famous for the big fields of red paprika, either sweet and hot ones, this dish is the best representation of how tasty that spice can be. Paprikas are usually picked up when fully ripe and that dried and crushed in a fine powder as you can find in the supermarkets.

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Čobanac is so much popular that you can also find organized competitions for chefs who want to win the glory of making the best stew! One very famous competition is called, “Požeški kotlić” where more than 40 contestants are preparing their čobanac and trying to win the title.

This dish was once only served with a bread although, though nowadays it is modern to make some sort of dumplings to go with them – I stand by the tradition and only ever serve fresh bread with my čobanac.

As I mentioned on the beginning it’s usually made on an open fire but as I live in a small apartment with only a stove I will give you a recipe that works very well for all conditions so there is no need to drag your cauldron out of the basement!

Ingredients For Čobanac

  • 1,5 kg meat (pork, beef, wild game meat)
  • 500g onion
  • 350g carrot
  • 75g parsley root
  • 2 tbsp sweet red paprika powder
  • 1 tbsp hot red paprika powder
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 5l water

Optional extras:

  • 2-3 Pickled hot peppers
  • 300g conserved mushrooms

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How to Make Čobanac

  • Clean and chop the onion in very small pieces.
  • Saute the onions in vegetable oil on a very light heat for at least 30 minutes. Stir them often, and watch over the pot so they do not burn. If you like you can add a small amount of water after 5-6 minutes just to be sure nothing burns.
  • Peel the carrots and grate the parsley root very fine with a grater. Add it to the onions and continue to saute for around 45 minutes. It needs to almost turn into a paste.
  • Now is time to add paprika powder, stir it well into the vegetables.
  • Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and add it to the pot, firstly wild game meat, after 5 minutes beef meat and after another 5 minutes pork meat. Leave it cooking until browned. Put salt over the meat and veggies and stir it well.
  • For this amount of ingredients, you will need around 5 liters of water, add the first liter and continue to sauté for around 1 hour.
  • Now add the remaining water and continue to cook for one more hour. In the last half of hour add the mushrooms and hot peppers if like.

As you may see this is one slow-cooked stew and you will need around 3 hours of your time to prepare it but it’s definitely worth of it.  Serve while still hot with few pieces of bread.

I would like to recommend you a glass of cold beer or some fine Croatian white wine such as a Rajnski Rizling.

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Comments (15)

  1. Paul Matkovic Well for now we have to stick with this ‘crap’ version. Next time you’re in Cro, come make us your one so I can taste it.

  2. Apologies i didn’t intend to sound rude lol im sure his recipe is nice. Authentic slavonski cobanac is the best when its simplified, i would love to tell you my own but can’t give away my secrets lol i have to say though the oregano is a definite no no

  3. Well its what a Croatian friend gave us, it’s his version. We’d love to see yours Paul and see where we went wrong.

  4. You all are going to kill me with these fabulous recipes that I cant cook. With out Slavonian paprika it is not the same Cobanac.

  5. If you put potatoes in, then it isn’t Čobanac, it’s Paprikaš.
    Čobanac is a very thick meat soup, in origin it was shepherd’s dish, made from a sheep’s meat (old sheep). Oregano has nothing to do with Čobanac, and it will totally spoil the dish.
    You can gain some thickness by adding a few farrows (little pigs) legs (foots).
    Cooking it over a wood fire is a must..

  6. Like gulyas leves just north in Hungary, except no pancetta in theirs. I brought home a few big bags of Slavonian paprika from the market in Osijek. Gonna use it in this recipe!

  7. Don’t forget the key to a great čobanac – cooked over a wood fire. This one from Darovar, Slavonia.

  8. Okay, this is on tap for my after-Christmas, Sunday-barely-leaving-the-couch one pot meal. Thanks for sharing the recipe and for making it possible sans cauldron!

  9. It’s summer here so we won’t have much need for this, but it still sounds delicious. The pictures of the Cobanac in the pot look very rustic.

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