Witches Night and Sausage: A Taste of Czech Tradition

Say so long to winter and hello spring with the traditional witch burning bonfire – and plenty of Czech sausage

Masopust may be the holiday of choice for meat lovers, but anyone who has ever attended a Čarodějnice celebration knows that the holiday is just as much about roasting Czech sausages over a roaring bonfire (táboráky) as it is burning straw witches.

The sausage most commonly found at the end of the Witches-Night skewer is špekáček. This Czech classic was first introduced in 1891, at the General Land Centennial Exhibition a world’s fair taking place at the Prague Exhibition Grounds in Holešovice. (The event also saw the debut of the now-defunct Křižík’s fountain as well as the Industrial Palace.)

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One of the most popular attractions at the fair was a new-fangled sausage machine which churned out these smoked-on-the-spot sausages, served to hungry crowds on salty rolls with mustard and horseradish.

Photo: Čarodejnice na ladronce

The original recipe consisted of a balanced amount of pork and beef and contained a smoked bacon liner, which is how the sausage got its name (špek is Czech for pork fat). In the years following, producers began to incorporate fillers and poor quality ingredients. The most common imitator is the buřtíček, a cheaper campfire favorite.

Also read:  Prague's National Museum has launched virtual tours of its current exhibits

In 2011, European legislation dictated that any product bearing the name špekáček must contain 38.5% of beef, 17.5% of pork, and 17% of bacon. This combination may be finely tuned with the seasoning mixture of garlic, pepper, and sometimes a pinch of nutmeg.

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Photo: Čarodejnice na ladronce

You can recognize the quality of the sausage by its trademark mosaic of meat and pieces of bacon. Before roasting cut a cross into either end and score with hash marks along the outside. The trick is not to hold the sausage too close to the flame or the outside will burn while the inside remains undercooked.

Buy quality špekáček at Real Meat Society, Naše maso, or Meatpoint.

And if you’re looking for a campfire, we recommend Čarodějnice Ladronka one of the biggest events in the Czech capital taking place in Prague 6 this evening from 2 pm.

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