Čevapčiči

bosnia-herzegovina, bulgaria, croatia, serbia
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Meatballs, or 'minced meat fingers' as they are often translated, are found all over the Balkans.  The best I have had were in Belgrade, served with fantastic kaymak (slightly soured clotted cream) and ajvar (red pepper relish).  They are also great with pickled cucumbers or raw chopped onion, and puffy white bread.  To mimic kaymak, simply mix clotted cream with a little sour cream and a pinch or two of salt.  

Cevapcici.JPGThis recipe is very simple.  The secret to success is making the mixture ahead of time, and then cooking the čevapčiči at the last minute and serving them immediately, since they dry out quickly. 

Recipe:  Cevapcici.pdf

Makes:  approx. 40 Čevapčiči

1 onion, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
c.25g butter
500g minced beef
500g minced lamb
1 egg white
1 rounded tbsp Hungarian paprika
salt and pepper
sunflower oil for frying

  1. Make the mixture a few hours before you want to cook, or even better the day before, so that the flavours have time to meld and develop.  Gently fry the onion and garlic in the butter until they have softened but still retain some of their freshness, about eight minutes.  Do not let them colour.  Spread them on a plate to cool, then combine with the remaining ingredients by mixing well with your hands.  Test a small patty by frying it in a tiny dash of sunflower oil - it should taste well seasoned.  Add more salt and pepper to the mix if needed.  Let the mix rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  2. Using lightly oiled hands form the mixture into small oblong sausages, each weighing about 25g.  This step can be done in advance and the meatballs can be stored in the fridge covered with clingfilm.
  3. Heat a dash of sunflower oil in a wide pan, preferably non-stick, and fry the meatballs in batches over a low to moderate flame.  They will need five or so minutes on each side, until they are just cooked through to the centre.  
  4. Serve immediately while still hot!

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