Sausage City: Beograd Meat Market's Secret Ćevapčići
When you walk into Beograd Meat Market, you might expect, as I did, to find fresh sausage that people talk about in online forums. Beneath the faded peach-colored awning is a spare, simple grocery store with a restaurant attached to it which was supposed to have excellent ćevapčići, an increasingly popular Balkan sausage made without casing, seasoned with cumin, and often grilled.
The thing is, it's kind of hard to find it once you walk in. With a language barrier and rows of groceries under fluorescent lights, it's highly possible to walk in to Beograd and figure there's not much of anything to buy.
There is a meat case to the left: but it's full of shrink-wrapped imported dried sausage, with not a sign of house made fresh sausage in sight. Nearby, there's a case of prepared hot food, which is tempting and, I can report, delicious—but otherwise, there's just a gas station-style wall of refrigerators full of cold drinks and a few rows of groceries.
When I asked about it, I was directed to a small shelf below the Orangina (of all places), where you can find giant styrofoam trays full of both traditional cevapcici and a spicier version in lamb casings. And thankfully, it's very good (and very inexpensive) homemade sausage.
Ćevapčići is a basic kind of sausage formed into logs without a casing; it's a bit like kofte as it straddles the line between meatball and sausage, and its name derives loosely from "kebab." Beograd's spicy version (which I couldn't successfully determine the name of) is stuffed into a casing, and is nearly as good, with a strong kick and a smoother, finer texture.
It's made for the summer grill, but they crisped up beautifully on an indoor ridged grill pan as well, and go perfectly with pita-style bread; the Greek, Turkish, and Mediterranean influences on Balkan cuisine means they play well with a mezze-style spread, like yogurt sauce, hot pepper sauce, and even hummus.
Beograd Meat Market
2937 West Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60618 (map)