Bosnian Veal Sauce: veal simmered over onion and carrots. Perfect with rice, polenta, or pasta.
If you are familiar with Bosnian cuisine, you may have read “sitni ćevap” and right away thought this recipe was a take on the barbecue meat sausages “ćevapi/ ćevapčići.” Alas, it’s not! Don’t despair though. If you try making this light sauce even once, I guarantee it’ll go into your roster of favorite recipes.
“Sitni ćevap” means miniature ćevap. Perfect name, really, as it’s a basic meat sauce that’s at once incredibly tasty and elegant. And it couldn’t be easier to make! Simmer some onions, add some meat, serve over rice… and bring your frenemies to their knees!
Before we delve into the recipe, let’s talk meat!
In the Balkans, beef types are as follows:
- There is teletina, or meat from a calf under 6 months. It’s soft, pink and mild. In these parts it’s known as veal.
- Second life stage is junetina, or meat from a cow that’s older than 7 months and hasn’t given birth to any calfs yet. It’s a little tougher and darker than veal, but still softer than beef. My closest guess is that in the US this is what’s meant by baby beef. (Are any of you a cattle farmer and are reading this blog? Tell me if I got that one right.)
- Finally, there is govedina, or meat from a calf older than 7 months, aka beef. The quality of beef depends on the age, weight, and nutrition of the cattle.
If you can get veal, great. If you cannot, get beef but make sure it’s tender. Promise? Good!
The main appeal with this sauce is its lightness. This is one recipe that won’t induce a food coma. It’s best served over white rice, but be adventurous and try it with spaghetti, quinoa, wheat pasta… You can even make a sandwich of it, or warm up some bread and then dip it in, and eat it with your hands.
- 2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 onions (medium-large)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 6–8 carrots (medium, or 20 baby carrots)
- 1 pound veal (or tender beef)
- 3–4 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 3–4 cups water (divided)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a large pan. Dice onions, carrots, garlic, meat and parsley.
- Add onions, garlic and carrots to the pan and simmer over medium high heat for 5-10 minutes until onions are lightly caramelized.
- Add meat to the pan along with 1 cup of water. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes until water almost evaporates.
- Add tomato sauce, sugar, paprika, and parsley to the pan. Simmer together for 5-10 minutes making sure nothing burns. (If needed add a little more water, and lower heat to medium.)
- Finally, add 2 cups of water to the sauce, cover the pan and lower heat to medium. Allow the sauce to boil at which point you should lower the temperature to low for a few more minutes. When the sauce is thicker than a soup but thinner than a stew, and the meat is tender, your sauce is finished.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve over white rice, or pasta.
Don’t forget to prepare your rice or pasta simultaneously!