Citizens, this “sausage” is actually closer to an American hamburger in many ways (despite being sausage-shaped) since it lacks a casing and is made from chopped meat. It is however spiced similar to a sausage and is exceptionally flavorful!
Ćevapi or ćevapčići (formal diminutive) are found traditionally throughout the countries of southeastern Europe (the Balkans).
They are considered a national dish in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and are also common in Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, as well as in Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania.
Ćevapi has its origins in the Balkans during the Ottoman period, and represents a regional speciality similar to the kofte kebab.
They are usually served as 5–10 pieces on a plate or in a flatbread (lepinje or somun), often with chopped onions and kajmak, a creamy dairy product similar to clotted cream that is made from the milk of water buffalos, cows, sheep, or goats in the Balkans.
Bosnian ćevapi are made from two types of minced beef meat, hand mixed and formed with a funnel, while formed ćevapi are grilled. Serb ćevapčići are made of either beef, lamb or pork or mixed. Macedonian, Croatian, Bulgarian and Romanian varieties are often made of both pork and beef.
They are frequently served with Lepinje, also known as somun, a triple-raised flatbread that is a popular street food in the Balkans. It is baked initially at high temperatures to achieve a hollow, puffy shape like Middle Eastern pita.
Add in some chopped fresh onion and the unique TFD touch of fresh herbs and you have one hell of a delicious sandwich, Citizens! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
3 cloves garlic
½ medium onion
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ cup hot water
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 pound ground grass-fed beef
1 pound ground grass-fed lamb
For the Lepinjes:
300 grams / approximately 3 US cups) all-purpose flour (bread flour is better if you have it)
2 envelopes dry yeast (or dry quick yeast) or 1 ounce / 30 grams fresh yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup / 8 fluid ounces / 250ml lukewarm water with 2 tablespoons of whole milk added
½ teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 egg yolk (to smear the top surface of the bread before baking
200-300 g of kaymak or milky sour cream if kaymak is not available (Quark would also work in a pinch)
Chopped raw onion
Fresh dill (optional)
Fresh basil (optional)
For the Lepinjes:
If you are using fresh yeast or plain dry yeast, mix them thoroughly with the milk-and-water and add the teaspoon of sugar: put aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes or until a good number of bubbles start forming. (If using fast-acting dry yeast, simply combine with all the dry ingredients.)
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix or knead well by hand for about seven minutes, or for about five minutes if using the dough hook of an electric mixer. This can be a somewhat sticky dough, depending on your flour; but don’t worry — the bread will still come out all right.
When finished mixing or kneading, put the dough in a warmed bowl, cover with plastic wrap / cling film, and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled (usually at least an hour). When risen, stir or punch down the dough, depending on the wetness, and cover again. Once more put aside to rise until doubled, usually at least another hour.
After this rising, flour a work surface and turn out the dough. With floured hands, knead the dough again briefly, then divide into between three and six portions, depending on the size of the lepinje you want.
Form these pieces into balls, flour them lightly, and allow them to rest for five or ten minutes; then flatten them (using a rolling pin if you like) to about half an inch thick, or a little thicker if making large lepinjas. Place on a floured baking sheet and allow to rise again for another twenty minutes or so.
Then, across the top surface of the Lepinjes, make some crossed lines with some sharp object (knife, paper edge or so), and smear out this dough top surface with an egg yolk and then stab the dough on all sides with a fork.
Preheat the oven to 425°F / 210°C. When ready, put in the baking sheet with the dough rounds. Bake at 425°F / 210°C for five to seven minutes — the lepinjes should be just turning golden — and then lower the heat to 300°F / 150°C.
Bake for another 10 minutes if the lepinje are small: another 12-15 minutes if they’re large. (If you like, and if you have a baking stone, the lepinje can also be baked on this, a couple or a few at a time.)
Remove from the oven and let them rest wrapped in a dishtowel for ten minutes or so to soften the crust. Then split or slice open. Serve hot, and as quickly as possible! Please note that these won’t keep much longer than a day before going stale.
For the sausages:
Place the garlic, onion, parsley, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and paprika in the bowl of a food processor. In a small bowl, mix the hot water with the cream of tartar and baking soda until the powders are dissolved. Add the baking soda mixture to the food processor and purée everything.
If you have large food processor that can handle it, add the meat and process until it’s smooth and all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. If you do not have a large food processor, place the beef and lamb in a large bowl, then add the purée and mix well with your hands.
Put the meat into an icing piping bag. Pipe out (or hand roll if no piping bag is available) the meat into sausage shapes — they should be about 4 inches long and ¾ inch in diameter. As you finish rolling, line up the sausages on a baking sheet. Cover the ćevapčići with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to overnight.
Roast the ćevapčići either on a preheated gas grill or under the broiler. They take about 5 minutes per side to turn a luscious, dark brown on the outside and to cook through in the middle. (In a pinch, you can also pan fry them in a large, non-stick skillet.) They are best grilled over charcoal, however!
When the roasting of the sausages approaches the end, cut Lepinjes horizontally with a bread knife. For 2-3 minutes, place the inner sides of the bread over the still roasting kebabs to draw its taste and smell, to soften and to resorb its succulence, then turn around Lepinjes to their outer sides to do the same.
Take off Lepinjes from the roasted sausages, smear both inner sides of the bread with the kaymak (or with the milky sour cream if kaymak is not available). Add some optional dill and basil leaves onto the kaymak.
Put pieces of roasted sausages onto the bread, add chopped raw onion over the kebabs according to taste, and a bit of ground red chili pepper and enjoy!