Looking at the sterile, vacuum-packaged meat products in shops, it is easy to gloss over the fact that they were once part of a living pig or cow. City dwellers and tourists rarely experience the pig slaughters that are traditional in Hungarian villages in the winter season. Pig killing is a great Hungarian tradition. Hungarians love pork in every possible form and have a special fondness for pigs. The main purpose is to make sausage and cutlets that are then salted or smoked in a backyard smokehouse or frozen to last for the year.
Pig slaughtering usually takes place in the winter months between November and February. On such days work begins early: the pig is killed and bled at around 5 am before it is processed.
The icy temperatures lend themselves to pig slaughtering: harmful bacteria do not multiply, the meat keeps for longer without deep-freezing, and the pig slaughterers work up less of a sweat. The pig is first de-haired, scorched – either with a gas-fired flame torch or by covering the pigs with straw and setting them on fire – and then skinned. Next the butcher and his assistants divide the animal into the parts which will be processed to make black pudding (véreshurka), sausage (kolbász), ham (sonka), hurka (organ and rice sausage), crackling and cuts of meat.
The traditional pig slaughter breakfast is roasted blood with onion. A pig yields about five litres of blood.
While the head, insides and breast of the pig are simmering in a pot over an open fire the men turn the meat grinder. The minced meat is seasoned with paprika, salt and pepper and stuffed into sheep gut. This stage is traditionally women’s work.
Part of the resulting kolbász is smoked, a process which takes a few days. To offer kolbász on the day of the pig slaughter a few sausages are roasted and are served with the dinner. For a good sausage you need traditional Hungarian spices, some, but not much of the fatty parts and lots of clean meat.
The content of the pot, once cooked, forms the basis of the blood sausage. The minced meat is mixed with garlic, onions, rice and pig’s blood, and stuffed into sheep gut. The sausages are briefly blanched, and then roasted.
In a second pot the crackling is prepared. With a huge wooden spoon the pork belly is stirred, which has been cut into strips, again and again until it has shrunk to a third of the size.
Each and every part of the pig is useful. Some bits are turned into spicy sausages or Hungarian “pig cheese”, which is similar to the Scottish haggis. The fat is fried and the legs are smoked.
The first glass of pálinka is drunk before the pig feast to get people in the mood, while the second is drunk in honour of the slaughtered pig.
There is plentiful pálinka and mulled wine throughout the day. While the work goes on outside, inside the atmosphere is becoming increasingly convivial. Breakfast consists of bread with lard, kolbász, and ham from the previous slaughter very early in the morning, later the roasted blood is served.
Lunch follows with the fantastic orja soup (made from the vertebral of the pig), pork filet and roasted fresh liver on steamed cabbage and with parsley potatoes. The feast is crowned by the dinner at around 6 pm when freshly roasted kolbász and the black pudding from the day’s pig slaughter arrive on the table.
At the end of the day guests take home a little package with delicacies from the pig feast.
source: The Budapest Times, Reuters
What are they made from?
1. sausages (kolbász)
2. organ and rice sausage (hurka)
3. black pudding (véreshurka)
5. roasted blood
1. Lots of clean meat, some fatty parts and traditional Hungarian spices (salt, pepper, paprika).
2. The head, insides and breast of the pig minced plus rice and spices.
3. The head, insides and breast of the pig plus rice and spices (garlic, onion) and blood.
4. Pork belly cut into strips and boiled.
5. Pig’s blood and onions.