I ate these pastries with pork greaves (“čvarci”) for the first time with a friend, whose parents are from Balkan. She barely explained to me what I was eating and what “pork greaves” (“čvarci”) were, but I remember that the pastries won me over at first sight. They were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and tasted like pork greaves (“čvarci”), and some sharp and warm feeling in my mouth delighted me. I had a feeling I could eat 10 of them at once, which wouldn’t be convenient for several reasons, so I refrained. Puff Pastries With Pork Greaves (“Čvarci”)
But I also decided to get pork greaves (“čvarci”) and make cakes at the first opportunity. Of course, that’s what happened, and then I invited a friend (the same one that I tried them with the first time) to come over and have a taste. She immediately told me enthusiastically how she managed to “infect” me and how I passed the exam. Glad that my culinary journey around the world continues, I will share this recipe with you. If it wins you over too, let me know!
Pastries With Pork Greaves (“Čvarci”)
These are salty pastries specific to the Balkan countries, but especially to Serbia, which is known for pork slaughter and specialties related to the preparation of salty desserts from this domestic animal. Only one in a series of specialties are pastries with greaves (“čvarci”), which are irresistible. Fragrant, delicious, and most beautiful when eaten hot and solo, because it seems to me that everything you eat or drink with them only spoils the main taste.
The taste of leavened dough combined with ground pork greaves (čvarci”) is irresistible. And if you succeed in the basic intention, which is to be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, you achieved the goal. The strangest thing for me the moment I found out what pork greaves (“čvarci”) are and how they are made, is that they are delicious. But they really are.
What Aren’t Pork Greaves (“Čvarci”), And What They Are?
By the way, to make it easier for you to understand what pork greaves (“čvarci”) are, here is an explanation. These are not: “pork greaves spread”, “pork rinds”, “greaves”, nor “cracklings”, although some of the above are close to that. They are “pork greaves”(“čvarci”), “Serbian greaves” or “Eastern European greaves”.
…And How They’re Made
This is a specialty, common for the area of Serbia, the rest of the Balkans, Ukraine, but also some other countries throughout Eastern Europe. They are mostly domestic productions, although there is also industrial production of pork greaves (“čvarci”). Nowadays, you can find them in markets and supermarkets. Pork greaves (“čvarci”) are made by melting lard and bacon, which is cut into pieces, about 2 centimeters in size. Towards the end of melting, milk can be added to make the greaves crispy. The process lasts until the fat melts and only small pieces (pork greaves, “čvarci”) remain.
As a spice, you can only add salt to them. Although someone also adds garlic or onion. After melting, the pork greaves (“čvarci”) are picked up from the fat and pressed to squeeze out the excess fat and salt. And the lard that remains after the pork greaves (“čvarci”) are melted is also excellent and healthy for cooking, and if it’s stored in suitable containers and kept in a cool place, it can last for a long time.
We might’ve never thought that something so delicious could come from such fatty meat, but it really can. The smell and taste of pork greaves (“čvarci”) is wonderful, and so are the salty desserts that include them. One of them is pastries with pork greaves (“čvarci”). People prepare these specialties mostly in late autumn and winter because, in the countries of Eastern Europe, it’s usually time to prepare meat and winter meat for a long winter period.
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Pastries With Pork Greaves (“Čvarci”)
The dough for the pastries with pork greaves (“čvarci”) is soft, not sticky, and it should stand for a total of about 40 minutes. This prolongs an otherwise short process. The most important thing is to divide the cracklings evenly over the dough and overlap it adequately. Also, when they are ground, the pork greaves (“čvarci”) should be lubricating, if they are not, add a little butter to them. One half of the developed dough is coated three times, which is folded and then re-developed. After that, the pastries are taken out with mold and baked. But you can see the whole procedure in the recipe and the attached pictures.
- Dough Ingredients
- 800 gr. smooth flour (you can add more if needed)
- 40gr. fresh yeast (or 1 tablespoon dry yeast)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 300 ml of warm milk
- 1.5 tablespoons salt
- ½ teaspoons of pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon lard or a little oil
- Ingredients For Phil
- 300 - 400 gr. ground pork greaves (“čvarci”) (if they are not soft and convenient to coat, a little butter can be added)
- 1 egg (a little sour cream can be added)
Grind the pork greaves (“čvarci”) (in a blender).
Mix the yeast, sugar and a bit of warm milk in a small bowl. Leave for about 10 minutes at room temperature to make a foam. Add salt to the flour, add pepper, stir and make a hole in the middle. Add the yeast (foam), egg, fat, and the rest of the warm milk.
Knead a smooth dough and leave it covered for 10 minutes, mix gently and leave for another half an hour for the dough to rise.
After that, transfer the risen dough to a work surface sprinkled with flour, mix and roll out thinly.
Spread one-third of the ground pork greaves (“čvarci”) on half of the dough, then fold in the other part. Roll out the dough again, add another third of the pork greaves (“čvarci”) and fold again.
Now repeat this process once more, coat the dough with the remaining pork greaves (“čvarci”), fold, and spread to approximately 1.5cm.
Take out the cakes with a round mold or a glass, and then arrange them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Beat the egg, add a little sour cream and coat the pastries (lightly salt them if desired).
You can also cut a decorative net on the pastries with a sharp knife or scalpel.
Bake for about 20-30 minutes at 180-200 degrees.
It's best not to knead the rest of the dough again after removing the pastries, but simply assemble the pieces and just take them out again with a mold or a glass. Such pastries will simply separate after baking, which is better than being hard. And that’s exactly what happens when the leftover dough is mixed again. If you like the pastries to be in some other shapes or sizes, feel free to experiment. Also, if you like them to grow more, you can let them stand for another 10 minutes before baking. Pastries with greaves are the most beautiful when they're warm, but they can also be eaten three days after baking, without being too hard or different in taste ...