The Iconic Croatian Risotto That Needs To Be Cooked For Hours

If you've ever been to Croatia, you've probably spent most of your vacation swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying life on the coast and its beautiful beaches (per CN Traveller). But did you know that the country also offers tons of traditional dishes and ingredients to try out? Located on the opposite side of the sea from its neighboring country Italy, Croatia is well-known as a food lovers' paradise. TimeOut made a list of the most popular Croatian foods, all of them equally delicious and with many different flavors and aromas. 

For example, on the rocky Pag, a Croatian island that's renowned for its cheese, salt, and lamb, you can try the famous Pag cheese, made from sheep's milk and similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano in texture, but with a somewhat saltier flavor. In the regions of Dalmatia and Istria, locals produce small batches of high-quality olive oil, while the city of Vinkovci boasts its kulen, a wide and large sausage made from pork, garlic, salt, and red paprika powder. And if you'd like to eat risotto, you don't have to go to Italy because Croatia has two of its own traditional risottos — one made with seafood and the other with meat.

Skradin risotto is made with veal, beef, and prosciutto

If you're into seafood, opt for the extraordinary black risotto, made in coastal areas and consisting of cuttlefish, calamari, prawns, onions, garlic, white wine, olive oil, and rice (via Chasing the Donkey). And if you're more of a meat lover, you absolutely need to try the iconic risotto that's made in the city of Skradin and appeared in an episode of the late Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" (via Dalmatia Sibenik). Just arm yourself with patience, as the dish called Skradin risotto (or skradinski rižot) takes anywhere from 8 to 10 hours to prepare. 

Traditionally, and probably a little bit sexist, the risotto is prepared by local men who stand near the pot for many hours while the meat cooks in the risotto until it starts to fall apart entirely. The risotto is made with arborio rice, veal, beef, prosciutto, onions, nutmeg, olive oil, and grated Pag cheese as the finishing touch.

However, it's always made in large quantities because it takes a lot of time to prepare, and if you'd like to try it, your best bet is to make a call to the restaurant a day or two in advance (per Iće & Piće). Expat in Croatia recommends pairing this tender veal risotto with a bottle of local wine on the side for the best possible experience, and we'll gladly take the advice.