Croatian cevapcici or cevapi, delicious grilled uncased pork and beef sausages with lots of garlic and paprika.
CEVAPCICI OR CEVAPI RECIPE
This cevapcici recipe is another one from a country participating to the FIFA World Cup. The World Cup is over, but I am obviously not, there are still so many recipes to come, I hope that’s OK. Today is Croatia, who played and lost the final against France on Sunday.
I don’t mind France winning, but if I had to pick a favorite to win the finals it would have been Croatia. Mostly because Croatia is closer to my country Romania and because it would have been great if a smaller country would have become champion for a change. One gets rather tired when only big football nations win everything there is to win…
But back to food, football is really not my area. Today’s cevapi or cevapcici are some of the best homemade sausages I have ever eaten. You definitely have to try them this summer. They are really summer food for me, I always associate grilled sausages with hot Romanian summers, cold drinks and garlic sauce.
The Croatian cevapi or cevapcici are also very similar to the Romanian “mici” or “mititei”, which are THE BEST grilled sausages, if you ask me. 🙂 Of course they are, I grew up eating them, we have them at least once or twice every summer in Germany as well, so the Croatian cevapi or cevapcici only come second to mici… But I am biased, of course.
WHAT ARE CEVAPCICI OR CEVAPI?
Cevapi or cevapcici are grilled sausages made of a mixture or ground beef and pork, seasoned with lots of garlic and paprika. Originally this kind of sausages were made with ground lamb, but nowadays beef or pork are more common. In Romania, there are still local versions made with lamb or a mixture of lamb and beef or pork.
Cevapi are very common not only in Croatia, but pretty much in all the other former Yugoslavian countries. Also common in countries around former Yugoslavia, like Romania – mici, Bulgaria – kebaptscheta or Albania – kebape.
The cevapi or cevapcici are very similar to the Turkish kofte kebab. They originated in the Balkan area during the rule of the Ottoman empire, who had a century-long influence all through these Balkan and South European countries.
Here are another few Ottoman inspired Romanian recipes, that you will probably find variations of in the Balkan area and all through the South European region: Savory Cheese Pie with Quark Feta and Yogurt, Zacusca – Eggplant and Red Pepper Spread, Sarmale – Cabbage Rolls with Pork and Rice or Stuffed Vine Leaves with Ground Meat and Rice.
HOW TO MAKE CEVAPCICI OR CEVAPI?
Well, the cevapcici recipe is simple, with just one thing that makes it very different from other kind of homemade sausages. The sausages are made with baking soda, which helps tenderize the ground meat, making the cevapi less dense, lighter, softer. So good! You should definitely not leave the baking soda out. You could make the cevapi without it, but you will definitely miss on something.
Spice the cevapi or cevapcici thoroughly with sweet paprika, hot paprika, sweet smoked paprika, vegeta, salt and pepper. The amount of spices needed might seem like a lot and I am talking here from a German cook’s point of view, my experience is that regular German home cooks, are easily startled when confronted with too many spices.
Still, if they do overcome their fear and do follow the “spicy” recipe, they are most of the times delighted with the results. So, be generous with the garlic and the paprika.
Another “spice” I use when making the cevapi is vegeta. It is not something I usually have in the house, I don’t think I have bought it more than once or twice in my life, but my grandmother used to take it all the time. And she did spice her sausages with vegeta as well, so for the sake of originality I did buy the vegeta. Many cevapi recipes I found online used vegeta as well.
Vegeta is an apparently Croatian (never knew that before, it could have been Romanian as far as I’m concerned, everybody in Romania seems to use it) all purpose seasoning, which is used to flavor more or less any kind of meal. You can put it into soups, sauces, stews, rice dishes, you can sprinkle it on meat, salad or bread spreads and so on.
If you cannot find or don’t want to buy it to make just this particular Cevapi or Cevapcici Recipe, you could easily replace it with (organic) vegetable stock powder.
Another advice I can give you regarding this cevapi recipe is to make sure you chop the onions as finely as possible. There are quite a few of them in the sausages and it is not so nice if the pieces are to roughly cut.
How to form the cevapcici?
When you form the cevapi, try to make them as regular as possible, not only they will look nicer when served, but they will cook more regularly as well. I weighed the meat mixture used to make one sausage, they were all between 50 and 55 g/ 1.7-1.9 oz/ ¼ cup. I had 18 cevapi or cevapcici in the end, but the recipe can be easily doubled.
HOW TO SERVE CEVAPCICI?
Well, there are lots of possibilities. One possibility would be to serve them with Djuvec rice. Well, as I needed a Nigerian recipe for my World Cup Food Series as well, I decided to make Jollof Rice, which is kind of similar to Djuvec, only differently spiced. It was a wonderful match, we all loved the combination.
You could also serve the cevapi or cevapcici with ajvar, chopped onions, sour cream, feta and flat bread. In Romania we would serve our version of cevapcici – mici with mustard or garlic sauce made with only grated garlic, salt and water and white bread.
And you should definitely make a Shopska Salad on the side. This is the way we had the cevapcici most of the times when on holiday in Croatia: Cevapcici with rice, raw onions and ajvar on a large plate and shopska or white cabbage salad on the side! Delicious!
- 500 g/ 1.1 lbs ground beef
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz ground pork
- 1 larger onion, about 150 g/ 5.3 oz
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- ½ tablespoon hot paprika
- ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- ¾ tablespoon vegeta or another vegetable stock powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Give the ground meat to a bowl. Chop the onion very finely and grate the garlic cloves. Give them to the bowl as well.
- Add the chopped parsley, all sorts of paprika, baking soda, dried breadcrumbs, water, vegeta, salt and pepper. Mix well with the hand mixer fitted with the dough hooks. Cover the bowl with cling film/ plastic foil and leave to rest for 1 or 2 hours in the refrigerator.
- Take portions of the meat mixture, about 50-55 g/ 1.7-1.9 oz/ ¼ cup portions, and form the cevapi or cevapcici. The rolls should be about as thick as your thumb and about 7-10 cm/ 3-4 inches long. I had 18 sausages. The recipe can be easily doubled.
- Grill the cevapicici in the hot grill pan or on the barbecue for about 12-14 minutes, turning them several times in between, or until brown and cooked through. I checked by cutting one in the middle and then grilling the following batches for the same period of time.
- Serve hot as suggested above. The cevapicici can be reheated in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until heated through. Check one, if it is not hot enough, give the sausages a few more minutes.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 571Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 170mgSodium: 964mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 52g