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Good morning all!
Happy Easter to those who observe, Happy Passover to those who observe and Happy Zombie Jesus and All Heathen’s Feast Day to the rest of us.
That doesn’t mean we’re doing an Easter dinner Sunday Gravy today.
Remember the one week delay rule?
If you want to drool over an Easter dinner here you go. From last year.
And here’s how to make it.
I WILL be getting together with the entire right family today and we will make Easter dinner that you can read all about next week. There will be a couple of new dishes and disciplines so it won’t feel like a recap of last year.
Today’s Sunday Gravy brings you an entirely new cuisine and 3 full, brand new recipes and techniques.
Today we will be visiting the Balkans.
According to the wikis “the Balkan Peninsula includes the countries of Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and the geographical/political region of European Turkey.”
The dish we are making today is cevapcici, AKA cevapi, also AKA as ćevapčići and also known by many, many other names depending on which Balkan country you are in.
Cevapi was originally of Asian origin and it is basically a skinless sausage made from a variety of meats that can vary depending on which country is making them.
The version I first tried was the Croatian version and I’m going to stick with that profile for today’s meal.
I first tried cevapi in my old town of San Pedro which has a very large Croatian expat presence due to it having a port, a fishing fleet and a similar climate to Croatia. You can find Croatian food all over San Pedro. I tried it at a Croatian pizza place, yes there was such a thing but alas they are no longer in business. The owner made a fantastic New York style pizza and one day when I was getting carryout he was out in front of the restaurant with a grill set up. He was cooking these odd looking meat things and he asked if I wanted to try one. I did.
I took an order of 6 home with me too.
Delicious! The cevapi I tried had a mixture of pork, beef and lamb and it was similar in profile to a gyro but the charcoal really carried through.
That’s what I’m going to make today. Cevapcici is usually served with a flatbread or pita, some diced fresh onion and a sauce accompaniment. I made all three parts of this from scratch.
Got to get right to this bad motherfucker because we’ve got 3 recipes to make and a shitload of pictures coming up.
And away we go!
Let’s start first with the sauce discipline and I’ve got a beauty.
Homemade Tzatziki sauce!
2 cups of plain Greek yogurt
1 fresh cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice – about half of a fresh lemon squeezed
1 tablespoon of fresh minced dill
Salt and pepper to taste.
Let’s do this shit pictorial style.
Using a cheesecloth lined strainer or colander, spoon in the yogurt to drain.
This can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. We don’t want the sauce to be too wet.
After it’s drained for a few hours you can see a difference.
I guess it was about half a cup of liquid that drained out.
Now let’s get after that cucumber. This was an English cucumber and I originally had taken photos of it after peeling. Granted we ARE known for being a “dick joke” blog but this fucking thing was a little too lifelike for my tastes.
Peel, slice and remove the seeds from the cucumber. I simply used a spoon and scraped them out.
Next I sprinkled some salt over the cucumber to help extract some of the moisture from it then let it set for about half an hour. You could mince this fucker up by hand but why do that when you have your badass collection of kitchen toys?
Into the food processor the former cock surrogate goes.
Drain the liquid from the bowl of the food processor then dump the chopped tuber into the yogurt.
Please take note that I didn’t drain the green dick liquid first and you can see it in that photo. I did drain it from the bowl before moving forward. That’s the dill on the left.
Add in the dill, garlic, lemon juice and stir it thoroughly. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper then drizzle the olive oil over the top.
This can, should and WAS made the day before everything else. This will keep in a covered bowl in your refrigerator for about 4 days. It was fucking delicious. This bastard can be a standalone recipe by itself.
Next we are going to make the meat mixture that will be used for the cevapicici. This should also be made the day in advance to allow the flavors to mingle and marry. Plus since we’ve got the real work ahead tomorrow let’s do as much in advance as we can.
1 and 1/2 pounds of ground pork
1 pound of ground beef
1/2 pound of ground lamb – yes there is such a thing
4 cloves of garlic – minced
1 egg white
1/4 cup of club soda or mineral water – yep
this lends a really nice firm texture to the finished sausage
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon of hot Hungarian paprika – like this
If you can’t get the Hungarian kind use 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon of cayenne instead.
Add all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
You want to mix this by hand for a good 2 minutes or more. Your hands are the best damn utensils you can have in the kitchen.
You did wash your nasty ass hands first yeah?
You could use disposable gloves but if you can’t handle mixing up some raw meat with your bare mitts then maybe your squeamish ass doesn’t belong in the goddamn kitchen! This is the best way to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
Cover the bowl tightly with some plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Next day remove your meat… from the refrigerator and let get to near room temperature. All we have to do to finish making the sausages is to form them into sausage shapes and grill them over a charcoal fire.
Before we continue on we must address something.
The visuals – or “The optics” as the current moronic term is used – are a bit frightful.
These. Well? They’re not exactly sexy visually.
Have you ever had “kefta?” or “Kofta?” That would be cevapi’s Middle Eastern cousin. I’ve eaten it at Lebanese restaurants.
Take a look.
That’s got a real Mr. Hankey vibe going on doesn’t it?
There’s a little “getting past” involved with this dish but you can do it.
I know you can!
Next day simply start up your charcoal grill and finish rolling up them sausages.
These will cook for about 8 minutes or so. Be sure to rotate the cevapi consistently.
Ah! Here they are on a perfect charcoal fire.
You can stop with the dick and poop jokes anytime now.
When cooked, serve the cevapcici on a pita or a flatbread, garnish with some minced white onion, a dab or two of that tzatziki we made and get busy.
That was entirely too easy to make and make well.
Wait, what? I said “Three recipes?”
Yeah, I did.
Why don’t we give ourselves a little additional fucking labor and make our very own.
Homemade Pita Bread!
quick note: having never made pita before, this recipe was duplicated in it’s entirety from Allrecipes.com
1 package of active dry yeast
1 cup of warm water – between 90-100 degrees (use a thermometer)
1 initial cup of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 3/4 cups more of all purpose flour
Some oil for cooking.
First thing we’ve got to do is make a “sponge” or a wad of wet dough for the yeast to feed on.
Add the yeast, the first cup of flour and the carefully tested warm water to the working bowl of your stand mixer. You can actually make this by hand if you don’t have a mixer.
Mix the ingredients together with a spoon.
Let this sit for about 20 minutes. It should get bubbly and foamy.
Next add the olive oil and salt to the sponge and stir to combine.
Then we add in the flour.
Using your hook attachment for the mixer give this a spin on “low” until the dough combines into a nice soft ball.
Pay attention class! That picture right there shows you exactly what you are looking for at this stage. See that dough pull away from the side of the bowl? That’s EXACTLY the shit we’re looking for. If it is too wet it won’t knead like this. If you need to, you can add up to 1/4 cup more of flour until you see the dough combine and pull away from the bowl.
Let this knead on low for about 5 minutes.
This is why you want a stand mixer, because if you are doing this by hand that’s your ass doing the kneading and not the mixer.
When combined and kneaded we should have us a nice soft dough. Move the dough to a floured surface and form into a ball.
Add some more oil into the same bowl you used for mixing and be sure to coat all of the sides of the bowl. Place the dough back into the bowl and roll around until it’s coated in oil.
Cover the bowl with some foil and place in a warm area to rise. This will take between 1-2 hours depending on the temperature of the place where the dough is rising.
We want it to double in size.
I let the dough rise in the kitchen next to the stove and while the temperature outside was about 70 it doubled in size in about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove dough to a floured surface yet again and flatten to about 1″ in height. Next we are going to cut the dough into eighths.
Round shape so I cut into wedges.
Take each piece and roll into a ball. Roll and tuck the dough from the bottom forming a nice round ball. Do this for all 8 pieces.
Cover with a piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap – a little spritz of cooking spray works here – and let rest for…
Thirty more goddamn minutes.
I swear to God we’re going to be cooking these eventually!
Finally, the shit is ready to go.
Some of you may remember a couple of seasons ago when I tried to make homemade flour tortillas and it did not go well.
At fucking all.
I ain’t making that dumbass mistake again.
We are going to roll and cook these ONE AT A TIME!
Heat up a cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add in about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Next take ONE ball of dough and roll it on a floured surface.
Let it rest for 5 minutes before cooking.
After it’s rested place the pita into the hot skillet.
These will each cook for 3 minutes per side.
My technique was put the first pita in the skillet, set the timer for 3 minutes, go back and roll the next piece of dough so it can get it’s 5 minutes of rest, come back to the skillet and flip the first pita.
Three more minutes on the other side.
Remove from the skillet and place on a plate then cover with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat this process for each piece. Roll, rest, place in hot skillet, roll the next piece so it can rest, flip the cooking pita, finish the cooking pita, then place on the plate. NOW they can be stacked on each other.
That’s the motherfucking deal right there.
To complete today’s meal, I also made some garlic potato wedges. You’ve seen these before.
Peeled and sliced potatoes covered with some salt, olive oil and minced garlic. 350 degree oven for an hour.
My pita didn’t poof up entirely to make a wider pocket but I was able to slice the edge open with a knife. Place a couple of sausages either in or on the bread, dab or two of the tzatziki, maybe some fresh diced onion, a handful of the garlic potatoes and it’s go time.
Laborious yes, fucking magnificent? Goddamn right it was.
The sausage was permeated with the charcoal smoke since it has no skin and you get the garlic and the slight gaminess from the ground lamb. The brightness of the fresh tzatziki is perfect here and that fresh pita was about 273 times better than you can buy at a store.
Hell yes! Hell fucking yes.
Make 1 of these, make two of the recipes or make them all. Each one is excellent and they all intertwine brilliantly when served as a meal.
Maybe get an accomplice to man that damn grill though. My ass was tired after this.
Enjoy your secular Sunday of choice and I look forward to seeing you back here next week.
Thanks for being here.