When my thoughts wander back into childhood, the first images to come to mind is that of the family table, and the first flavours my palate remembers is the marbled yellowish-red meat. This meat is the meat of the Buša cow, an indigenous Croatian cattle breed, which my family was raised on, and which has always remained in our hearts. This article will introduce you to this mountain cattle breed, characteristic for Lika and the Dalmatian inland region, which raised countless generations.
How to recognise the Buša cow
The Buša cow is kept on the rugged terrain of the Dinaric mountains, where man had little impact. The breed is highly resistant to the range of weather conditions here and the scarcity of food. The coat is exceptionally thick and coarse, and the colouration is most often grey, brown or yellowish, with stripes on the back. The horns are short and dark, the snout brown and the hooves black. The Buša is a small cattle species, with short legs only 90 to 110 cm in length, while its mass can range from 150 to 400 kilograms. The Buša can be seen on the steep and sparse pastures, where it takes advantage of all the natural food sources. The Buša is characterised by good fertility even in poor living conditions, and is therefore suitable for individual breeding on family farms with poor means. These cattle are kept at pasture year round, and are only brought into stable during the harshest of winter conditions.
The breeding of this cattle has been taking place here for more than 700 years. Since 2007, the Čačić family decided to begin breeding Buša from the Lika region, in the village of Ostrvica. The family farm of Alenka Čačić, as the head of this farm, includes 130 Buša cows and bulls and some 80 calves. Though this breed is accustomed to meagre conditions, it still requires a great deal of care, effort and work in order to produce a high quality local product ready for the market. Due to the characteristics of its breeding, the Buša has a lower percentage of meat to bone, and gives a lower milk yield. However, the meat of Buša is pure and aromatic, while the milk is healthy and marked by exceptional quality. The indigenous local breed, when prepared in a modern way, becomes a premium delicacy.
Specialties on the island of Pag
In the creation of this year’s menu at Hotel Boškinac, chef Matija Bregeš, his team and I thought for a long time on how to prepare indigenous ingredients in a unique way that would give guests an absolutely unforgettable culinary experience. Alongside other ingredients, the Buša was the first I wanted to include. Buša tartare was included on the menu, and this is sure to be a delicacy that will provide a wide range of flavours. The meat of the Buša is high in dry matter, due to the sparse feeding and activity of this breed, giving it excellent flavour in all culinary combinations. I would like to invite you to visit the island of Pag and the restaurant Boškinac, to enjoy this unique culinary experience.
Author: Boris Šuljić Boškinac