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.

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