Method: GrillJump to Recipe
One of the things that I always find amazing is the “evolution” of food. So many foods in different regions, countries, and even continents can be traced back to a common dish, but as that dish was taken, adopted, and adapted by various cultures it transforms into something different, that takes on the qualities and attributes of that region. One of those dishes is Cevapi or Cevapcici. These caseless sausages can be found throughout the Balkans and are the National dish of Bosnia and Herzergovina. They are also found throughout Croatia, Albania, Slovenia, Serbia, and most of the other countries in the region with each country having subtle differences in flavor, size, shape, and accompaniments. In appearance and taste they are quite similar to Turkish Kofta (food evolution baby!), and the roots of both are likely tied to Persian kebabs.
I am so happy my friend Nena directed me to these fantastic Balkan treats. If you ever find yourself in Eastern Washington, definitely make a special trip to check out European Desserts and Appetizers by Nena. They are worth the trip! Her tiramisu and charcuterie boards are legendary in the Tri-Cities. Check them out at https://www.dessertsbynena.com/
Gather ingredients and form the Cevapi
These meaty treasures are pretty simple to make with the use of fairly common ingredients.
After gathering the ingredients, combine the spices in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of water. Combining the spices with a bit of liquid before mixing with the meat greatly helps in evenly spreading the spice throughout the meat. It is a trick I learned from making Chef Tony Gemignani’s Meatballs Gigante, that I frequently use anytime I am seasoning meat. Check out my rendition of his famous meatballs here.
Next mix the meat mixture with the spice liquid and form into shape of choice. This is where regional differences take hold. Our preference is smaller cigar shaped patties as they cook quicker and fit perfectly into pitas with the Ajvar and other fillings We have also had good luck making them bigger and then slicing them up for serving in the same manner. Either way, be sure to let them rest overnight to develop the appropriate flavor and texture.
Time to grill
Now that you have done the most difficult part, waiting, it is time for the best part. GRILLING! Fire up your smoker or grill to 400 degrees and lets cook these bad boys up.
After your grill is at temp cook the sausages over direct heat for 2-3 minutes per side, then remove to indirect heat until they reach an internal temp of 155 degrees. The carry over temp will carry the meat to the USDA safe temp of 160. Finally, cover the cevapi with foil and let the meat rest for about 5 minutes while you plate the rest of your meal.
Traditionally these are served up simply with some onion and Ajvar sauce. We have included the recipe below, or find even more detail about this Balkan delight here:
Stuff it all together in a pita and you have a one of the most popular street foods in all of the Baltic.
“If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding…”- Pink Floyd
“Unless the pudding is made of meat, why would I want it?”- Carne Diem
Hope you and your family enjoyed this recipe. Help us keep on keeping on by giving us a share and a comment below.
- 1 pound Ground Beef
- 1/2 pound Ground Pork
- 1/2 pound Ground Lamb
- 4 Cloves Garlic minced
- 2 tea Sweet Hungarian Paprika
- 2 tea Fine Sea Salt
- 1 tea Black Pepper we love smoked pepper
- 1 tea Baking Soda
- 2 Tab Water
- In a large bowl, combine the spices with the water and mix well
- Stir in the meats and mix well
- Sprinkle with baking soda, mix and shape into small sausages
- Refrigerate overnight
- Heat grill to 400 degrees
- Cook the sausages over direct heat for 2-3 minutes per side, then remove to indirect heat until they reach an internal temp of 155 degrees (carry over temp will carry the meat to the USDA safe temp of 160).
- Cover with foil and let the meat rest for about 5 minutes while you plate the rest of your meal.
Try these tasty treats with a traditional Balkan relish, Ajvar.
- food processor
- 4 Bell Peppers Traditionally red, but orange and yellow work, too
- 1 medium Eggplant
- 2 cloves Minced Garlic or 1 Tab garlic squeeze
- 1 Tab Sugar
- 3 Tab Olive Oil
- 1 Tab White Wine Vinegar
- 1/2 tea Cayenne
- 1 pinch Salt
- Preheat your grill to about 450 degrees and set up for direct heat.
- Place the peppers directly over the hottest part of the fire and roast them until they get a nice even char on all sides, flipping them about every 3 minutes to ensure they heat evenly.
- When nicely charred and blistered on all sides, remove the peppers to a glass bowl and cover with with Saran Wrap until they are cool enough to handle.
- While the peppers are cooling, grill the eggplant on the hot grill, for about 5 minutes per side, or until the eggplant no longer wants to hold its shape, then remove to a bowl to cool.
- When the eggplant is cool, cut a slit in the leathery outer skin and scoop the inner flesh into a food processor.
- Peel the blistered skin off of the peppers, and remove the seeds and stems. This may be easier to accomplish under some cold running water. Add the pepper to the food processor along with the remaining ingredients and pulse to a relish consistency. Don't over blend it.
- Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan or skillet, then add the relish and cook for about 5 minutes until most of the liquid is cooked off.
- Remove the relish to a bowl and let cool. Refrigerate until needed.