Ćevapčići for the masses

Ćevapčići. I love ’em and I eat them by the kilo whenever I’m in Bosnia. When not in Bosnia, I try to find them. This has proved fruitless as Bosnian ćevapčići are the best you’ll ever find and all others seem to pale in comparison. That is unless you make them yourself. The recipe is not actually that hard and mainly just involves a willingness to mix up raw meat with your bare hands, which some people might get squeamish about, and I would then laugh at.

1kg ground beef
1kg ground lamb
8 cloves of minced garlic
1 medium finely chopped white onion
25g salt
10g paprika
10g cumin
5g fresh parsley

Basically, you just mix all of this together and play the ingredients by ear as you see fit. I’ve seen some wrong recipes call for 50% beef, 25% lamb, and 25% pork. While I’m Croatian and love the piggy, I find this to be sacrilegious and swear by only a nice halal beef/lamb blend. Of course as a Croat, I’m sworn to use a bit of paprika, although I’ll also toss in a dash of black pepper, chili powder, and curry if the mood calls for it.

If you do the math, you’ll see that this makes a gigantic pile of meat. The reason for this is that rolling them out is a messy process that you’ll not want to do all the time. As I don’t have an extruder, I do it by hand and roll out these 1cm thick snakes that I then cut in to 3-4cm long pieces. What I’m not going to eat, I wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. It keeps quite well and thaws out fast.

To cook them, you must fire up the charcoal grill and roast them over the flame. If you can’t start fires in your apartment, then you need a proper grill pan. Just put it on medium heat, turn them regularly until they get nice and brown and you’re set. In general, they’ll cook up really fast.

You serve them with chopped white onions and lepinja. That may be tough to find, so just get pita bread which is pretty much the same. Then there’s the issue of kajmak which again, as a Croat, I’m probably supposed to shun in favor of ajvar. Ajvar is wonderfully tasty, but it is most assuredly no kajmak which is, in two words: fucking heavenly. The process of how it’s made makes it difficult to find as it’s created in a curdling process which most health boards deem “unsanitary”. Screw them, it’s good stuff. But, given that you probably won’t find it anywhere, take some cream cheese, warm it up in a pan and add a bit of salt and a little sour cream to it. It most definitely is not real kajmak, but this “fauxmak” is about the closest I’ve been able to approximate short of spending some time in Baščaršija to learn how to make it properly.

But, that’s it. It’s a pretty simple dish that is incredibly tasty and I hope you enjoy.

3 Replies to “Ćevapčići for the masses”

  1. The spices are as you prefer. I like cumin with the lamb and I like curry even more. The parsley is also something that could be considered non-traditional and honestly, most folks I know just make them with salt and a bit of garlic which is far too bland unless the meat is of an incredible quality.

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