Pressed Meat (Tlačenka)

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Ingredients: 1 lb of pork meat (shoulder, side cut), 1lb of pork hearts and neck, 3 cloves garlic, black pepper, caraway, salt
Prep Time: About 1.5 hours plus overnight for the meat to set

I like food and I’ll eat pretty much anything. However, there are few things I can’t stand, and tlačenka is one of them. I find it absolutely disgusting. However, this dish is favorite of many Slovaks including just about everyone in my family. The name is derived from the verb tlačiť, to press. A crowd of people, for instance on a bus during the rush hour, is called tlačenica. This dish is made by preparing a meat paste and then pressing it together. It is another dish that is prepared during zabíjačka along with hurky and sausages.

You start this recipe by cooking about 2 lbs of various pork meat. About half of it should be pieces of fatty meat (side cut or shoulder), and the other half is made up of other parts, such as heart, kidneys and something called podhrdlina (meaning “under throat”). You cook the meat until it is soft and then grind it in a meat grinder, similar to what was done to prepare jaternica. Save the broth.

Then add a tea spoon of crushed garlic, ground black pepper, half a spoon of caraway and another spoon of salt. Adjust to taste.

Then add about 5 small ladles full of the broth in which the meat was cooking. The final mixture should have the consistency of canned tuna.

There are special bags made for preparing tlačenka. However, these are not necessary, and you can use regular plastic bags. Divide the meat into two halves and place each into a plastic bag. Press out the air and tie shut with a string. Then just to be sure, place each bag into another bag, and tie that one shut too. Place the bags into a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes. To make sure the plastic doesn’t burn, place them first into a strainer. Then place the bags onto a baking sheet and cover by a baking pan. Place in some cool place (or outside during winter). Weigh down by placing some heavy object, such as a brick or a bag of flour, into the pan. Let set overnight.

Slovak tlacenka or pressed meat with smoked sausage and onions
And that’s it. Enjoy or at least offer to those who like this “delicacy”. It is often served as shown in the photo, with mustard, onions and smoked sausages.

15 comments - What do you think?

Posted by    Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010

Categories: Pork, Beef and Chicken Recipes, Recipes

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15 Responses to “Pressed Meat (Tlačenka)”

  1. Miro says:

    I am one of those who loves “tlačenku” In the US it’s frequently referred to as “headcheese”.

    There was a gourmet shop in McLean that sold “headcheese” and other European especially German delicatessen. I was so delighted to be able to buy it, as it was exactly the way I remembered it and still buy it in Slovakia when I am back, but then they closed that shop:(.

    I always tell my sister in Slovakia, just get me some “tlačenku” when I come.

    I remember it bit differently (way of making it) We used to boil the pig’s head (split in half and brain “mozoček” removed for other cooking and adding some other pork meat and offal “vnutornosti” like a heart, kidney, etc.

    Of course, some onion, spices, salt, etc. When soft, all bones were removed and the meat was put through a coarse grinder, in addition, to make it really coarse (the way I like it) some parts were chopped (not grinded), and that meant things like Ear, tongue, stomach, heart, etc.

    Boiling the whole head made for a good gelatin to set “tlačenku” The rest is the same.

    I like it a lot, served with onion, a sprinkled with vinegar, with a good bread.

  2. juraj says:

    The Germans make a virtually identical food and call it Presswurst – or pressed sausage in transaltion. Traditionally this gets stuffed into a pigs bladder. I ate some haggis in england and it was essentially tlacenka. In vietnam the street vendors had a large sausage that looked exactly like a classic slovak tlacenka, but it was flavoured with eastern spices and chilli, but the major ingredisnts were the same, I wonder if the french took it there, or if marco polo brought it back from his travels.

  3. Good morning, everyone – I was writing to see if anyone could explain to me the difference between tlačenka and studenina/huspenina? Is it a matter of ingredients/meats used or method? Or is there some other fundamental difference?

    Thanks –

    Ron ~

  4. Ron Fischer says:

    Thank you, Josephine!

  5. Rado says:

    I found “tlacenka” in US several times at several different places and it was allways referred to as HEADCHEESE. None of them was quite close in flavour and consistency of slovak style headcheese until I found one they sell in Smith’s stores here in the west in deli departments. Probably other Kroger stores carry it as well. Can’t think of the name of the brand now since I allways ask to slice it, so I don’t get original packaging. Everytime a new person slice it for me he/she is almost shocked that I ask for two or three slices about half inch thick. Then I am allways asked how do I eat it. Another shocked face, when I say with chopped onion and vinegar and black pepper with bread. Anyway, this headcheese it almost like home made, only majoram is missing in it.

  6. gary says:

    Just had tlacenka for the first time today!. Sooo good. I’m English and have visited Slovakia every year since 2007 and cant believe that I have missed out. We have a similar dish called brawn, which is made from the head and trotters plus spices. No rasca as this is not widely used in our cooking. It was great with a paprik and chilli paste and bread.

  7. Peter Culen says:

    First time on your wonderful website!!! I have a few weeks off and plan to try many recipes. My mother told me one of her fathers favorites was potatoes and string beans w/ maybe vinegar and creamy? but he spent some time in Hungary
    so maybe it’s Hungarian? Any thought? Thank you Peter Culen

  8. Marian Liska says:

    No taku tlacenku ako je uvedene v recepte som na Slovensku nikdy nevidel a nejedol. Pochadzam z kraja,kde “domaci” obyvatelia ” su nazyvany HURKARI ak nikekto vie, kde to na strednom Slovensku je. Vyssie uz niekto popisal coje tlacenka.. .

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