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Jelen - home of excellent čorbanac

The idea that the best gastronomic corners of cities are in the suburbs is certainly recognized in the restaurant Jelen, at the eastern entrance to Slavonski Brod. Somewhat secluded, next to the railway line, Jelen is one of the city's culinary institutions and it is difficult to find a free table. For one of them, we sat down with the owner of the restaurant, Marica Pezer, who herself took a break from the never-ending work in the kitchen. Along with excellent Slavonian plum brandy, we talk about the rich menu and even richer portions that are the norm for Slavonia.

The meat offer is the reason why many people from Brod come to Jelen, but we were tempted by the shepherd's stew or čorbanac. Perhaps it is the most Slavonic of all dishes on Eastern Croatian menus, as it comes from the pastures and meadows of this region. The shepherds brought the treasure to those pastures and immediately after that they made a fire, put a kettle with water and put in it whatever they had brought in their bags. The dish simmered for hours. Seasonal vegetables were mixed with various meats – chicken, mutton, beef, lamb, pork, game. After a few hours, pepperoni, hot pepper, wine were added, and then the shepherd's feast could begin.

Čorbanac, as they say in Brodski Posavlje, has become a legendary dish in Slavonia, and every family has some special addition that makes the difference. That's why we decided to try Čorbanac in Jelen, which is praised by many mouths. It consists of young beef, pork and game (venison, boar, deer, according to availability from production in Đakovo).

Marica and her sister work in the rented restaurant, and the owner of the building is also the owner of a herd of deer that run happily in the fenced area next to the restaurant. From here there is a beautiful view of the Brod vineyard, and in the warm season deer delight passers-by with their stature and beauty. Fortunately for them, these deer do not end up in the čorbanac.

Čorbanac is most often made for several people, it is tastiest when eaten in good company, and it is also excellent when left to stand for a while. Several types of meat are usually hidden in the broth, among which pork and beef are the leading ones, and game meat or lamb is also added. The meat is added to the cauldron in order and depending on the toughness, so game is added first, followed by beef and pork.

Many vegetables such as onions, carrots, celery and parsley roots and fresh tomatoes are boiled in its sauce, and spices such as bay leaf, salt, pepper and, of course, ground sweet and hot red pepper, which gives the broth its distinctive red colour, are indispensable additions. One of the main features of this dish is certainly its spiciness, for which, in addition to ground paprika, dried hot peppers are added. They do it flawlessly in Jelen. It has a rich meaty taste and spiciness is the art of the kitchen. In some parts of Slavonia, čorbanac is made needlessly too spicy, while in Jelen, the light spicyness is a boon for the strength of all flavours. In any case, a stew that everyone must try, especially with excellent pita bread.

Jelen is a real family business, two sisters are the owners, Marica's husband and children help, and the restaurant employs over 20 people. They have been running the restaurant for over two years, and have already received an award from the City of Slavonski Brod for one of the three best restaurants. "I've been a cook since I was fifteen. I've been in the kitchen all my life," Marica laughs and readily answers what the people of Brod like to eat the most: "Meat and potatoes. Let it be abundant and rich. There are fish stew questions, but it's hard to get by. We offer trout and perch, squids are indispensable, but people would like to try fish stew the most. However, we don't get to deal with that.“

„A very large number of visitors came to our restaurant in a short period of time and this is reflected in our award. The food is always fresh, nothing is stale. Čorbanac, goulash, sarma, beans, summer sataraš in a bun with meat, all of these are sold very quickly. People are eager for home-made food," Marica tells us as we notice from the kitchen more and more dishes for hungry guests. Meat dishes are leading the way, rich in all forms of barbecue, but also tempting soups and steaks, pancakes and cakes that fill the tables in a very beautiful interior.

Jelen is a very Slavonian restaurant, and that adjective does not necessarily mean the search for some original Slavonian flavours, but a response to local demand. It shows the rich appetite of the people of Brod, as well as their guests, because we noticed a large number of non-boat and even foreign car registrations. For such enjoyment, you should turn off the highway and visit Jelen:

Restoran Jelen

Ul. Marijana Lanosovića bb, Slavonski Brod


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