Is it Ćevapi or ćevapčići!?
While we love the sausages we’ve developed over the years and make as our standard varieties, we definitely also love to mix up some flavors. At our heart, we’re food lovers and we connect over food every day, so a recipe that brings together three generations who are all satisfied at the end of the meal is a winner on the farm.
This one originated for us at a party we attended in 2007 outside Hershey. A friend of a friend of Serbian descent had some family visiting from New York, and they had stopped at their local butcher to bring one of their favorite foods from home - ćevapčići. As new and beginning farmers dabbling in raising chickens and lamb, but dreaming of getting into pigs and sausage making, we were intrigued. The small finger sized grilled sausages had no casing, were unlike anything we had ever eaten, and were served with a ridiculously good red pepper sauce!
We immediately started making our own version, and over the years we’ve adapted it a bit for various ingredient availability. We’ve made it three times in the past month, just because we happened to have all the ingredients. The most recent, and best so far, was made for Anna’s parents’ first visit in the quarantine. Here’s how I made it this time:
3 lbs of meat (we used 6 to feed everyone and have lots of leftovers - they’re GREAT cold). I usually prefer 3 different types, but it works with just two types of meat as well. Ideally, use pork, lamb and beef. Any combination of the two will work though! Finely chophalf an onion and throw in somefresh herbs if you have them (I used thyme and marjoram last time). I add an egg in with the meat, lots of recipes call for whites only - your call!
Salt and spices into a bowl together: as a habit from years of making cured meats, I always use percentages for salting meat. 1.5% by weight to be exact for most recipes. Much saltier, and you need a bit of sugar. This means 20g of salt for 3 lbs of meat (we usethis gram scale). Then, add somegarlic powder (3-5g),smoked paprika (up to 10g), and someblack pepper to taste.
Baking soda or no?The most notable feature of this sausage besides its amazing flavor is the texture. We assumed the tender texture was due to the combination of ground meats, but most recipes include asecret ingredient for tenderizing the meat mixture: baking soda! We’ve tried it both ways, and about1tsp baking soda per 3 lbs seems to be the ideal rate.
Put meat, egg and herbs into a bowl and mix by hand. Gradually add salt and spices and mix by hand very well until the meat is emulsified. This will become a VERY sticky, doughy texture, but it will be well worth it. At this point I usually let the meat sit and rest for a bit, but if you’re pressed for time, no worries! Shape the meat into small sausages that I think resemble mummy sleeping bags. Here’s a picture of our last batch:
These are best grilled, but you could absolutely broil or fry them, if need be. We grilled these on our old 19th century cast iron cook stove with the cook top removed. They’re the perfect size to allow them to brown on one side, flip once and brown on the other side to perfect doneness!
And as for the red pepper sauce, obviously this would be more in season in summer when we have fresh red peppers to roast. In lieu of that, I blendeda jar of natural roasted red pepperswith1 large garlic clove, and the juice of half a lemon.With the blender on high, I drizzled in about¼ cup of olive oil.
If you’ve gotten ground beef, ground lamb, or ground pork in your recent orders, give this one a try!
And let us know how it comes out, if you try it. Maybe one day soon we’ll make this sausage mix to sell.
Hope you all are staying well and enjoying the warming weather!
~Brooks and anna