Bosnia and Herzegovina

This week we’re back to the Balkans to check out one of the national dish of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ćevapi. The other national dish, bosanski lonac is also not to be missed but I’m making this in preparation for a weekend of marathoning the Outer Worlds so a hand food is ideal. I’ll also be making lepinja to jam the awesome little meat nuggets into and kajmak sauce.

Ćevapi  is basically a kebab, though personally, I find it to be much more similar to Transylvanian mici sausages in texture that a typical kebab. I’m basing my prep on the Slavorium’s recipe and Food Perestroika’s recipes.

LET’S DO THIS for the ćevapi:

  • 1 pound ground beef (if you have a meat grinder, get a well marbled steak instead and grind with the a small die)
  • 1 pound ground lamb (if you have a meat grinder, leg of lamb is fine, grind same to the beef)
  • 2-3 pressed garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf/Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda dissolved into 1/8 cup water

LET’S DO THIS for the lepinja:

  • 2 tablespoons room temperature milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package active yeast
  • 1.25 cups lukewarm water
  • 3.25 cups flour

LET’S DO THIS for the kajmak and optional toppings:

  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/3 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • (optional topping) thinly sliced red onion
  • (optional topping) mixed baby greens or spinach
  • (optional topping) sliced tomatoes

Total prep time for me was 35 minutes (16:45 to 17:20), your time will vary.

There are several long waiting periods in this prep (not overnight!) totaling to about 2 hours of waiting so prep and begin well before you’re hungry. You will need an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and a pizza stone for this prep; ideally a meat grinder (or mixer grinder attachment) and a grill as well. I do not have a grill and will be using a cast iron pan instead, nor do I have a meat grinder (I’ll be using my mixer to re-process already ground meat).

Here’s what you’re going to do:

  • In your mixer bowl, add the milk and sugar, stir gently to mix. Sprinkle the yeast on top and wait 5 minutes.
  • Add the water for the lepinja and half the flour, turn the mixer on to medium speed.
  • Add the salt. Slowly add the remaining flour bit by bit.
  • Move the dough to a floured bowl and allow to rise, covered, in a warm area for 90 minutes.
  • While the dough is rising, prepare the ćevapi.
  • Sauté the garlic in the olive oil until soft, then allow to cool.
  • Mix the garlic, meats, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix the dissolved baking soda water into the meat
  • If you have a meat grinder, grind the mixture twice with a small die. If not, mix the meat in an electric mixer – you don’t want it pulverized to sludge, but you do want it to have a fine texture.
  • Refrigerate for one hour.
  • While the ćevapi and lepinja are sitting, prepare the kajmak.
  • Mix together the feta, cream cheese, and creme fraiche until smooth (use a food processor or blender if necessary). Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Once the lepinja has doubled in size, knead back down (about 1 minute) and allow to rise again for one hour
  • Perform the first cooking of the ćevapi. Form about 1-2 tablespoons of meat at a time into semi-cylindrical sections
  • On a grill or in a cast iron skillet, cook on all sides. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Preheat your oven to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, with the pizza stone in the oven and a full baking dish of water underneath
  • Divide the lepinja dough into four balls. Roll one on a floured board or pizza peel to about 6 inches wide. Allow to sit for about fifteen minutes. Handling the dough as minimally as possible, slide onto the pizza stone.
  • Bake for 4-8 minutes, until puffed and golden. Prepare your next lepinja while the first is baking, repeat until all four are baked.
  • While your lepinja are baking, re-heat your ćevapi in the pan on lower heat (or in a toaster oven, split range, etc.) – you want them to be hot for serving, but not overcooked/dry.
  • Cut the lepinja in half once cooled. Serve with the kajmak and any toppings you would like.

That’s it! Total time is about 4 hours, 15 minutes (16:45 to 21:00).