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Pihtije (Serbian Cyrillic: пихтије), pivtija (Macedonian: пивтија) or pača (Bulgarian, Macedonian: пача), or piftie in Romanian is an aspic-like originally Serbian dish, generally made from low grade pork meat, such as the head, shank and/or hock made into a semi-consistent gelatinous cake-like form. Some recipes also include smoked meat.
Pihtije is commonly just one component of the traditional meal (or an appetizer), although it can be served as a main dish. It is usually accompanied by cold rakija (strong šljivovica or apricot brandy is nice, but quince brandy can do as well) and turšija (cold pickled vegetables, usually horse-radish, bell peppers, hot peppers, green tomatoes and cabbage/sauerkraut).
The recipe calls for the meat to be cleaned, washed and then boiled for a short time, no longer than 5–10 minutes. Then the water is changed, and vegetables and spices are added (usually pepper, bay leaves, onion, carrots, celery). This is cooked until the meat begins to separate from the bones by itself; then, the bones are removed, the meat stock is filtered and the meat and stock are poured into shallow bowls.
Garlic is added, as well as thin slices of carrots or green peppers, or something similar for decoration. It is left to sit in a cold spot, such as a fridge or outside if the weather is cold enough (this is a traditional winter dish). It congeals into jelly and can be cut into cubes (it is often said that good pihtijas are "cut like glass"). These cubes can be sprinkled with dried ground red paprika ( aleva paprika ), as desired, before serving.
Pihtije must always be cut in equal sized cubes.
Pihtije are frequently used in slavas and other celebratory occasions with Serbs. This is despite the generally low nutritional qualities of the dish, as well as a taste and look most people (including most Serbs and Macedonians) find unappealing.
Romanian piftie is usually with pork's offal made from different kinds of meat, boiled with garlic and bay leaves. Piftie has a different way of preparing, usually the feet of the pig are boiled, to make a soup, those feet are used because they contain a lot more gelatin than any other part of the pig. The mixture is then cooled and makes a jelly. Usually garlic is added. Piftie is traditionally served for Epiphany Day.
- "Spravljanje suhomesnatih proizvoda u domaćinstvu" by Živojin Milosavljević, DIP Nolit/IŠP Evro, Beograd 1999
- "Veliki Narodni Kuvar" 16th edition, Beograd 1976
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