Kranjska Sausage

Even the Emperor Licked his Fingers

The certified recipe requires high-quality pork, hard bacon, garlic, pepper, salt and pig’s intestine. Photo: Tomo Jeseničnik

A story has it that the Habsburg Emperor Franz-Josef (1830-1916) stopped for a meal at the renowned carriage drivers’ inn called Marinšek in Naklo near Kranj. The innkeeper told him that he could offer only ordinary house sausages. When the Emperor tasted one, he enthusiastically exclaimed that it was no ordinary sausage, but a Kranjska sausage. Indeed, it is now officially confirmed that Kranjska sausage is a Slovenian speciality. Just as Emperor Franz-Josef confirmed how delicious it is, the European Commission has likewise acknowledged its authenticity.

The European Commission approved its entry in the register of protected geographical indications and thus added it on the list with over 1,200 protected agricultural products in the EU. This is the twenty-second Slovenian product registered by the European Commission. Some experts say that skewered Kranjska sausage, first made in 1896 and also protected in Slovenia since 2008, is one of the most recognisable Slovenian culinary products. 

Slovenian trademark

Photo: Tina Kosec/STA

The oldest recipes for Kranjska sausages can be found in two cookbooks, i.e. Die Sűddeutsche Küche by Katharina Prato (1896) and the sixth edition of Slovenska kuharica by Felicita Kalinšek (1912). Over the years, the recipe gradually established itself as a trademark. In 2004, the first Slovenian competition for the best Kranjska sausage was held at the Jezeršek House of Culinary Arts in Sora near Medvode. The competition has become traditional, and the festival’s particular feature is the assessments made by round tables comprised of butchers, caterers, journalists and lovers of Kranjska sausage. 

The Kranjska sausage is a semi-durable, slightly smoked sausage which has to be cooked before consumption. It is usually eaten hot, together with sour or cooked cabbage or sour turnip. A white bun, mustard and grated horseradish are mandatory companions. Kranjska sausage can also be enjoyed with different beverages. Wine is preferred, but it also goes well with beer. Supposedly, even angels would like its flavour. 

Record holder

Photo: Tamino Petelinšek

A good butcher is important for a good sausage. One of the best in Slovenia is Arvaj. “I made my first skewered Kranjska sausage in 1956,” master butcher Anton Arvaj recalls, and notes that their sausages have been the best in Slovenia for eight years running, with the exception of 2013. They have always dedicated much love to making the sausages, especially in recent years. The largest one, at 520 kilos, made in 1999, was even listed in the Book of World Records. 

Open to original interpretations

An excellent product also allows for splendid interpretations. Janez Bogataj’s monograph, Kranjska Sausage Masterpieces from Slovenia, published in 2012, received the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for the best book in the Single Subject category focusing only on one ingredient. As the competition is considered a gourmand version of the Oscars, there is no doubt that Kranjska sausage is a versatile ingredient. In addition to its history, the cookbook also includes an array of creative culinary masterpieces prepared by Slovenian chefs from 16 selected restaurants with innovative recipes made with Kranjska sausage, even desserts. The monograph is available in English.

Text by Tanja Glogovčan