Large pans with wide rims, sometimes as much as 2 m in diameter, are placed on specially designed stoves – usually cleverly adapted metal barrels. In Zagorje, Prigorje, Zagreb, but above all in Samobor, these kitchen contraptions, which go by the name of kotlovina, as does the dish prepared in them, are the symbol of merrymaking, good times and good food. Every gathering of people in the open is an excellent opportunity for a kotlovina.
The basic recipe is simple and very rustic. Pigs’ legs are fried, or rather melted, in the pan, invariably with chopped onion. They are doused first with water and then with wine. Once this basic stock is prepared, pieces of meat are added, usually pork cutlets. The secret of a good flavour lies in gentle, slow cooking, as opposed to the fast grilling technique.
Recipes for kotlovina are varied and, in contrast to the recipe for the basic stock, can be very complex. The meat used can come in the form of sausages; but it can be chicken, veal, yearling beef, even game. All root vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, even young beans and mushrooms find their way into a kotlovina in order to make the flavour as rich as possible. Potato is served to soak up the juices. When the abundance of ingredients becomes too much, the true connoisseurs return to the puritan Samobor version.