BBQ SE European Specialty - Featured Image

BBQ – A south-east European specialty

In BBQ, Food by Željko JaguštLeave a Comment

This meal or, better say a feast, has been served in my family since I was born. And I was born in former Yugoslavia, where literally every village had its own version of how BBQ should be done. So, when I say BBQ is a traditional meal in this part of Europe, that is an understatement and almost insulting. It is a religion!

History and Customs

Soon after humankind discovered fire, we figured the meat is much tastier if "grilled" over it. So yeah, we were burning meat long before letters and language. Based on that fact, we have BBQ present worldwide. As for the BBQ "form" we nowadays have here in south-east Europe, the roots can be found in ancient Greece and Ottoman Empire later on. The base of everything is a wood charcoal grill and, of course, the meat (though vegetables can also be grilled).
BBQ SE European Specialty - Wood Charcoal Grill
Wood Charcoal Grill
There is an exception when talking about meat - fish. If taking a trip to the Dalmatia region of Croatia, grilling fish is something one does not do over a wood charcoal grill. To do a proper grilled fish, only dry grapevine should be used for the grill. Also, seasoning is different, and along with the grapevine grill, it gives the fish an exceptional aroma and flavor.

What you need...

The most important ingredient is love! You need to love the meat and enjoy the preparation and ceremony of grilling it. And there is nothing better than a lovely sunny weekend day, good company, a beer, and the smell of the meat on the grill. Nothing can go wrong, right? Well... it can.

First of all, don't be a lazy bastard and buy already prepared and seasoned meat in the supermarket. Usually, that kind of meat is not fresh and is covered with too much spice to cover the fact it's not fresh. Go to a good butcher shop and buy your meat there. And buy it one day before you intend to grill it.

BBQ SE European Specialty - Fresh Meat
Fresh Meat
Second, don't use "all-in-one" grill spice mixtures. If you want to stick to this recipe, you will need salt, pepper, fresh parsley, fresh garlic, and some vegetable oil. Trust me, you don't need anything else.
BBQ SE European Specialty - Fresh Spices
Fresh BBQ Spices
The last thing you need is a nice chunk of bacon to grease your grating. Once you have everything, you can go and enjoy your grilling day.

...and how you do it

To start, get your meat (and veggies if you like). Once you have it, you need to season the meat and leave it overnight in the fridge. The next day, buy some quality wood charcoal (don't buy that cheap stuff you can find at gas stations) and clean your grating. With all in place and ready, you can start the fire and burn some meat!

Step 01 - The Butcher Shop

I'm serious. Go and find a good butcher. Ask people around, or Google your area and check the reviews. Once done, you can go and buy the meat. You can put various pieces of meat on your grill, and I recommend the following: pork shoulder (or pork neck) chops, pork chops, pork bellypork skewers, ćevapi (sausage-like minced meat), pljeskavice (like a burger but usually thinner), and good grill sausages. You can grill chicken also, but it's the last meat I will put on a grill.

Ask your butcher to cut them a bit thicker if you're buying chops (any kind). Chops should be juicy and soft when grilled; if the cut is too thin, you will burn them, and they will taste like cardboard.

For a nice 4-6 people meal, you will need the following amount of meat (make sure there are some leftovers for dinner 🙂 ):

  • 6pcs of Pork Neck Chops
  • 8pcs of Pork Belly
  • 4pcs of Pork Chops
  • 1kg Ćevapi
  • 4pcs of Pljeskavice

Step 02 - Spices and Side Dishes

For side dishes, you can use anything you like. Usually, I serve potato fries (not frozen ones!) and some seasonal salad. Also, I don't have to mention that onion (I prefer spring onion) is mandatory! If someone serves you BBQ and there is no onion aside, just leave 🙂
Now, to season your meat, you will need the following:
  • Some vegetable oil (I prefer sunflower)
  • 10-15 cloves of fresh garlic
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt

Step 03 - Season the Meat

You will need a bigger metallic or ceramic bowl to season the meat. The disposable aluminum container will also work, but don't use plastic ones (plastic kills flavour). Start by finely chopping all garlic cloves and parsley and prepare all other seasoning ingredients.

Add meat in "layers" to your bowl and add all seasoning between each layer. First add thick pieces of meat (pork neck chops, pork chops, and pork belly) and finish with sausages and minced meat (pljeskavice & ćevapi):

  1. Generously sprinkle the bottom and sides of your bowl with vegetable oil
  2. Add some finely chopped garlic and parsley to the bottom of the bowl
  3. Season the bottom and the sides of the bowl with salt and pepper
  4. Now add the first layer of meat (until you cover the bottom)
  5. Generously sprinkle the first layer of meat with oil
  6. Add all seasoning to the first layer of meat
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 until you use all meat

With all meat seasoned, cover the bowl with a sticky plastic foil and put it in the fridge overnight.

BBQ SE European Specialty - Seasoned Meat
Seasoned Meat

Step 04 - Preparation

On the "grilling" day, I like to start early. So wake up, have your coffee and start with the preparation. First, clean your grill. Remove ash residue from the last time you did the grilling and wash your grate. It's best to leave it soaked in hot water for a bit and then wash and dry it.

Once you're done with that, you can prepare everything to start the fire. You will need old newspapers, dry wood branches, and charcoal. Put a few wrinkled newspaper leaves on the middle of your grill. On top of that, stack your dry wood branches (make it look like a small Indian wigwam).

To kill time until you plan to start the fire, you can prepare all your side dishes. So, wash your veggies, peel potatoes, make salads, chop onions, etc.

One hour before starting the fire, take your meat out of the fridge and scrape off garlic and parsley with a fork as much as possible. Once done, put the meat in a new clean bowl and leave everything at room temperature.

Step 05 - Grill the Meat

Usually, I start the fire 45min to half an hour before my first guests arrive. This gives me enough time to get nice embers. Once the fire (embers) is right, I place my grate over it to catch some heat (5-10mins).

Before you put the meat over the fire, take a nice slice of fat bacon, stick it to a fork and coat your grate. During the coating, the bacon should start to sizzle. If not, the fire is not strong enough yet.

With the grate coated, you can start putting your first pieces of meat on it. Do it in the same order you seasoned it, putting thicker slices first.

BBQ SE European Specialty - Thick Meat Slices
Thick Meat Slices First

Flip the meat every 3-4mins until you see nice crispiness on both sides. Usually, flip it 2-3 times (each side), depending on the thickness, but please be careful not to burn it. Repeat everything until you grill all your meat.

Once the meat is done, you can grill your veggies. Mushrooms are fantastic because they will absorb all the flavor of the meat from the grate. It's what mushrooms do 🙂 If you have some bread to grill also, leave it for last. Once everything is done, serve it on a big enough platter.

BBQ SE European Specialty - BBQ Served
BBQ Served!

Now sit back in the shade, take a few slices of meat, grab your favorite side dish, open a cold one and enjoy.

Bon appetit!

Share if you like. Thank you in advance!

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.