If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know that I credit a lot of my culinary abilities to my Mom and the beautiful Polish women that make up her side of our family. In this post, I want to pay tribute to a more recent influence – my Serbian in-laws. As an Amerikanka, I was formally welcomed into this family 12 years ago, although I’ve known most of them for 19 years or more. I’ve learned a few things in that time. I’ll stick to the kitchen lessons here *wink*!
First, any and all gatherings revolve around food. And lots of it. If you unexpectedly stop by to say “Hi”, food will magically appear and you will be required to eat before you leave.
Second, you will never eat enough to satisfy your hostess. The food is so delicious, you will stuff yourself to the point of developing a food baby. But… “Are you sure you don’t want more, you didn’t eat very much?”
Third, three to four different meats should be served. This way there is something to please everyone!
Fourth, leftovers are a must! This always makes my day – who doesn’t want to come home from work knowing that the cooking is done for you! I seriously count down the hours left in the work day when I know there is Manga (beef stew) waiting for me at home!!
So, this post is in honor of my Mother-in-law, Janet, and all the other awesome Serbians that I call family!
The first time I tried Ćevapčići was on a Mediterranean cruise that Alex and I took in 2008. One of our ports was Dubrovnik, Croatia. We wandered the streets and stopped to eat at a little hole in the wall. Alex was so excited to see Ćevapčići on the menu. He had last had them when he traveled to Yugoslavia with his family as a middle schooler. We ordered them and I fell in love! They were so tasty. I promised to learn to make them as soon as we returned home. Unfortunately, I never got around to it – until now! It may have taken awhile, but these are just as good as I remember them. They could not be simpler to throw together and are great grilled or baked in the oven if you do not have access to a grill.
Ćevapčići (Serbian Kebabs)
- 1 pound of ground pastured pork
- 1 pound of ground grass-fed lamb
- 1 pound of ground grass-fed beef
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 of a yellow onion, finely diced
What to do:
If you are baking the Ćevapčići, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with foil. If you are grilling them, pre-heat you grill on high or as you would for grilling burgers.
In a very large mixing bowl, combine all of the above ingredients and mix well with your hands. Make sure the spices are evenly distributed and the meats are well mixed.
Now you need to shape the Ćevapčići. Grab a few Tablespoons of the meat mixture and roll it in your hands to form a small sausage. They should be a little under an inch thick and about 3 inches long. You will be rolling them for awhile, so recruit a helper if you can! Place the formed Ćevapčići on the baking sheets with an inch or two of space between them or place them on a platter if grilling.
Place the baking sheets in the oven for 10-14 minutes, or until the Ćevapčići are cooked through and lightly browned on the outside. If grilling, it will only take a few minutes per side for them to be cooked through, so watch them carefully.
Serve with the veggie of your choosing (we like steamed broccoli doused in butter) or a big salad with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers topped with olive oil and vinegar. If you are lucky enough to be able to track down some Ajvar (roasted red pepper relish), serve it along side the Ćevapčići and you will taste pure happiness! Special thanks to my awesome mother-in-law for providing us with homemade Ajvar!