A week ago Sunday I made some more cevapcici. For those of you just joining us cevapcici are Serbian sausages that have no casing. Actually some variety of cevapcici is made in most of the Balkan countries.
I am determined to master the cevapi, but in my quest I have come to the realization that there is some secret that the master sausage slingers are hiding, better yet, guarding. I am not surprised by this, all meat masters harbor some sort of trade secret, why should these guys be any different?
On this attempt I tried a few different things. I still used ground pork, but I also used ground veal, lamb shanks that I de-boned, and I used a lamb liver. The idea behind the liver was that in the old days people had to use what ever disgusting part of the animal they could, like liver. Liver has a distinct flavor so I gave it a shot. Using a tip I was offered I combined all the meat in a bowl with a bit of salt and let it co-mingle for 24 hours, letting the flavors get to know one another. I also froze the meat, this made a huge difference when I had to grind it up, it was much easier.
My spices didn’t change much; salt, hot paprika, an egg, a dash of bread crumbs, fresh garlic, and red pepper. I am still kicking myself for this last ingredient, it almost ruined 5 pounds of meat. Have you ever heard of vegeta? It is billed as a “gourmet seasoning and soup mix” and most Serbian women, around here anyway, use it in everything. I had never encountered this vile concoction prior to meeting my wife. Evidently there are only two spices one needs when cooking; vegeta and paprika. That’s it. Vegeta is a yellow powder that has bits of dried up vegetables in it, and is as salty as the flats in Utah. My God! I put some of this garbage in my meat at the suggestion of the wife. Going into it I knew how salty it was, so I was extra careful not to use too much. A pinch is all I used! And of course it was too much. So I ended up adding 2 pounds of ground beef and ground pork just to try to wash out the saltiness. It worked, fortunately.
Ultimately the recipe was:
1 lb. ground beef
2 lbs. ground pork
1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb
1/2 lb ground veal
1 ground lamb liver
1/2 cup unflavored bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp hot paprika
1 tbsp vegeta
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp baking powder
It ended up being on the spicy side, which I like, and 4 cloves of garlic may be a tad too much. I pressed them using a larger diameter tube so that they were larger and firmer, this worked out pretty well.
I fed the new batch to my father, an American, and he liked them but they were too spicy for his pallet. On the same day the wife’s sister and boyfriend tried them and the reviews were good. But, they had the same critique as I, “the flavor is good, but the texture is off.” And that is the damn secret!!! Once again though I have been offered good tips from the tasting audience that I will try on the next batch.
Just know dear reader, that when I crack the Serbo-sausage matrix…..the recipe won’t be on this blog. I’ll be buried with it!!!