Kulen, or kulin, is the most prestigious, most appreciated and yes, the most expensive sausage-type product, not only in Slavonia but across Croatia. The recipe to which it is made seems very simple: the best parts of pork cleaned of all fatty and connective tissue, ground paprika, garlic and salt are the ingredients used to fill a meticulously cleaned intestine. But as they say, it is not what but how something is made; every nuance is important in the making of kulen and can be a crucial factor at the Kuleniada – a national competition of the grand masters of the makers of kulen.
The pig must not be too young, but rather large, weighing over 180 kg. The breeds most sought after are Mangulica and the black Slavonian pig. Its diet is the key to the quality of meat, the best being from pigs allowed to freely roam the forests and copses of Slavonia and feeding on, among other things, acorn of the famous Slavonian oak. It is believed, and for quite a few it is the normal practice, that the best results are achieved if meat is chopped by hand rather than minced, but there is also a school of compromise: the best parts of meat are chopped by hand for taste, while the rest is minced in order to achieve the consistency that kulen should possess. Garlic is usually strained into the mixture. Of particular importance is the right choice of top quality ground paprika, and the ratio of sweet and hot paprika used, since it is this spice which ultimately gives the product a sharpness that is mild, noble and in no way aggressive. The quantity of salt requires a precision that allows for not the minutest mistake.