How to Make Croatian Ćevapčići (Ćevapi)

Ćevapčići, also known as Ćevapi, are a beloved dish in Croatian cuisine. These flavorful sausages, typically made from a blend of ground beef and pork, are grilled to perfection and served in pita bread with chopped onions and a drizzle of spicy chili sauce. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making this delightful dish.

Ingredients

For the Ćevapčići:

500g ground beef
500g ground pork
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for extra spice)

For Serving:

Pita bread or flatbreads
1 large onion, finely chopped
Ajvar (a type of Balkan red pepper relish) or any spicy chili sauce

Instructions

1. Prepare the Meat Mixture

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and ground pork.
    Add the finely chopped onion, minced garlic, salt, black pepper, and paprika to the meat mixture.
    Dissolve the baking soda in 1 tablespoon of water and add it to the meat mixture. This helps to tenderize the meat and gives the sausages a nice texture.
    Mix the ingredients thoroughly using your hands until everything is well incorporated. The meat mixture should be sticky and well-blended.
    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or overnight for best results.

2. Shape the Ćevapčići

    After the meat has rested, take it out of the refrigerator.
    With wet hands (to prevent sticking), shape the meat into small sausages, about 2 inches in length and 1 inch in diameter. You should get about 20-25 sausages from this mixture.

3. Grill the Ćevapčići

    Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. If you don’t have a grill, a grill pan or skillet works well too.
    Place the sausages on the grill and cook them for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until they are nicely browned and cooked through. The internal temperature should reach 160°F (70°C).
    Avoid overcooking to keep the sausages juicy.

4. Serve

    Warm the pita bread or flatbreads on the grill or in a hot pan.
    Place several Ćevapčići inside each pita.
    Top with a generous amount of finely chopped onions.
    Drizzle with Ajvar or your preferred spicy chili sauce.

Tips for Perfect Ćevapčići

Meat Blend: The traditional mix of beef and pork provides the best flavor, but you can also experiment with lamb or other meats.
Resting Time: Allowing the meat to rest in the refrigerator helps the flavors to meld and improves the texture of the sausages.
Grilling: Make sure your grill or pan is well-heated before adding the sausages to achieve a good sear and smoky flavor.

Enjoying Your Ćevapčići

Ćevapčići are often enjoyed with a side of fresh chopped vegetables, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, or a simple salad. They pair wonderfully with a cold beer or a glass of red wine. This dish is perfect for barbecues, gatherings, or just a delicious homemade meal.

Enjoy making and savoring this traditional Croatian dish, bringing a taste of the Balkans to your kitchen!