The other night my husband suggested that we have cevapi (chevapi) for dinner. For those unfamiliar with cevapi, it is a Balkan dish typically consisting of a combination of minced pork, beef, and lamb. I was introduced to this dish in Sarajevo where there is a cevapi restaurant on every corner. I was traveling with someone from Montenegro, and he wanted to eat cevapi nearly every night because, for him, this dish was home. Given that cevapi is not readily available in the states, I could understand why he wanted to take full advantage of this opportunity to indulge. However, we were there for two weeks, so after a few nights of cevapi hopping, I was ready to move on.
I quickly found that that cuisine of Sarajevo, and the inner region of the Balkans in general, is mostly meat and potatoes with some brown mountain trout thrown in for good measure. The food was heavy and rich, and the Turkish coffee was extremely strong. I am an adventurous eater, but it took a few days for my system to adjust. I enjoyed my time in Sarajevo very much, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to go back. I have a lot to say about Bosnia that has nothing to do with food. For now, I’ll just say that even though the unemployment rate is around 40% and the people are still aggressively divided over politics and religion, they all agree that cevapi is just about one of the finest dishes around.
I aim to please. If my husband wants cevapi, cevapi it is. The one small glitch for this recipe was that I did not have any ground beef or lamb in the larder. However, I did have ground turkey and two kinds of pork sausage. I will not claim that this is traditional cevapi, but the inspiration and spirit of the dish is there.
Cevapi Ingredients (approximately 34 pieces):
1. 1/2 lb – mild Italian Sausage
2. 1 lb – hot Italian Sausaget
3. 1 lb – ground turkey
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
2. In a large bowl, mix together the two sausages and the turkey. I recommend using your hands to do the mixing so that everything is evenly mixed.
3. Using a small to medium size scooper, scoop even amounts of the mixture onto a baking sheet. Use your hands to mold the cevapi before releasing it from the scooper. The point of this process is to ensure that the cevapi are all the same size and shape to the greatest extent possible. If you do not have a scooper, use your hands to create the cevapi balls, but be sure that they are very close is shape and size. This is important to ensure that they cook at the same rate.
5. Bake for 25 minutes.
This recipe is intended to be made in a pressure cooker. There are several reasons I use a pressure cooker to prepare rice. First, rice is my arch-nemesis in the kitchen. I always follow the instructions on the bag, and the rice is always under cooked. I have played around with the amount of water and the cooking time, and under no circumstances do I lift the lid before the rice is done cooking. One day I discovered a recipe for cooking rice in the pressure cooker. I was very close to buying a rice steamer when I decided to give the pressure cooker a try. Presto! The rice was near perfect on the first attempt. There are several advantages to using a pressure cooker to make rice. First, it conserves water because it requires less liquid than the recipe on the bag. This is because the recipe on the bag factors in liquid that will be lost during the cooking process. Because much less water is lost when using a pressure cooker, the amount of water can generally be reduced by half a cup. Additionally, the pressure cooker uses less energy because it only uses 2-5 minutes of active heat. And lastly, the cooking time is reduced from about 40 minutes to approximately 15 minutes.You can still use this recipe if you do not have a pressure cooker, but increase the water by half a cup and follow the cooking instructions on the back of the rice bag.1. 1 cup Basmati rice
2. 1 oz cilantro – chopped
3. 1/4 oz saffron
4. 1/2 cup mushroom broth
5. 1/4 tsp turmeric
6. 3/4 cups water
7. 1 Tbsp olive oil
8. Salt and pepper to tasteRice Instructions:
1. Add all ingredients to pressure cooker and stir together
2. Close the pressure cooker and place over high heat until the pressure reaches high (2 minutes).
3. Once the pressure is high, turn off the heat and let the rice cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Please note that this is only if you use an electric stove as the burner will still be hot once you turn it off. If you use a gas stove, leave the burner on to keep the pressure at high. If the pressure is too high, reduce the level of heat.
4. After 3 minutes, remove the pressure cooker from the hot burner and allow it to release the pressure naturally.This should take about 10 minutes.