Sunday, May 27, 2007

an east european favourite

with summer quickly approaching, barbeques will soon be ablaze all over the place as people look forward to and plan for picnics and country house weekend getaways.

a very easy and delicious item for these summer days are the small romanian sausages called mititei ("small things"). a staple item with the romanian crowd, after tasting these you will understand why.

they are simple to make and well worth the few minutes of work it takes to prepare and grill them. after cooking, the final texture will be juicy with a fine and tender interior, the result of mixing the meat properly and adding the secret ingredient. read on to find out what :D

as with all recipes, there are a number of variations to this little homemade sausage without a casing. in keeping with the kosher way of cooking, only beef is being used. you can adjust the seasonings to meet your tastes but the following amounts work nicely. try them and judge for yourself.

romanian style mini sausages

perfect for grilling outdoors, these can be made also on a grill-style cast iron pan with very acceptable results. served alongside pickles and good mustard, these are incredibly good for either a snack or part of a supper or picnic barbeque.

makes approximately 10 - 12


1 lb medium ground beef, not lean
3 - 4 cloves garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda (do not omit)
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh
1 tsp dried summer savory or marjoram (if unavailable use oregano)
1/2 - 1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp hot paprika or harissa or dried red chilis
1/2 tsp mild smoked paprika, if available
(or use smoked hot paprika and omit the other 2)
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin, optional
1/3 - 1/2 c cold water

note: try to use the spices listed without substitution; they are sausage spices and make a world of difference in the final flavour.


place the meat in a large bowl and set aside. you need medium and not lean meat for this to work properly. the lean just doesn't have the fat content to produce a nice sausage.

process garlic and salt to make a paste. you can also chop it extremely fine and then place 1/2 tsp of the salt on it and shmear it with the side of a knife over and over again to break it down to a paste, chopping in between. it's extra work but it gives a good result.

place the garlic in with the meat.

add the rest of the spices & seasonings to the meat. do not omit adding the baking soda, the "secret" ingredient. it helps with the final texture of the meat and keeps it juicy.

with your dominant hand, start to squeeze the meat over and over again to incorporate the ingredients. do this for about five minutes, adding the water in between squeezes. the texture of the meat needs to be a paste to get the right results.

now either refrigerate the paste until the next day or shape it right away and then refrigerate it. it is easier to do it right away than the next day in that you already have the meat in front of you!

with wet hands, take a heaping tablespoon of the meat and roll it into a sausage with is the length of your middle finger, more or less, and a good inch or so thick.

place these on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. this is to let the spices permeate the meat. don't skip this either!

when ready to cook, heat the pan or grill. i use a cast iron grill pan over medium heat which i leave for about 10 minutes to heat up. if it is not hot, the meat will stick.cook the mititei without any oil for about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes on all 4 sides.

the mititei will shorten and fatten up as they cook.

i like to place them in a bowl with a plate over it to cover for about 5 minutes to let the juices settle and keep them hot. this helps alot.

enjoy with mustard and hot peppers and pickles. a cold beer might help, too!


Maninas said...

Allspice is one of the few things missing in my spice cupboard! Your recipe is a great incentive to go out and get it, and make it! I know the bf will _love_ this! Thanks for the great recipe! Btw, where di you find it?

TopChamp said...

sounds good! If we get sun again I'll try this out.

Had to Google 'kosher salt' though - couldn't work out what wouldn't be kosher about salt... It all became clear.

burekaboy — said...

maninas - allspice is really good with meat; it is also used in combination with cinnamon to flavour kefta (i know you know what those are! lol) and rice dishes; it's a very turkish thing though i think it's sometimes used in other middle eastern cuisines. it does taste great and worth trying. the recipe is from a friend's mother who is romanian. this is how they make them but there are different variations. non jewish romanians will add ground pork sometimes. she says the real kind is made only with ground beef and includes the summer savory herb. who knows ... lol. as long as they taste good :)) look forward to hearing how you like them ;p

TC - hope you like them. but please, no melted fudge on them, ok? LOL. as for kosher salt, it's much thicker than table salt. i guess you could use smashed up maldon instead.

TopChamp said...

now you've done it again! Just back showing a pal so he can make it with me next bbq day... It looks FUN to make. Meat. Yum.

Now off to google 'Maldon'!!

burekaboy — said...

TC - what's maldon?! what's maldon!!?? TC, are u sure you're in the UK?? LOL ;p

i don't eat meat often but when i do i LOVE it (check back later this week, i'm posting an easy chicken curry recipe even you can make, HA HA HA ;p).

these are fun to make. u may want to have the meat out for a little bit to take the chill off it as it's way cold on the hands when you have to "squish" it — or have an extra helping pair of hand to make the job go faster. can use regular salt if you don't have the kind called for here.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your mititei have captured all my attention! Those sausages are interestingly spicy and I'm sure that they'll tingle my tastebuds just perfectly! You see, I love tasty food..
I might do that recipe for our foodbloggers' picnic in June.
Thanks for giving me a great idea!

TopChamp said...

It's just sea salt/rock salt isn't it? Chunky stuff. Have that.

I'm shocked and offended (ok then, I'm sitting chuckling) at the implication I can't cook... Why only last night we had friends round, so I cooked garlic roast lamb with rosemary roast potatoes, curly kale and carrots...followed by Eton Mess! OK, so the Eton Mess was made as a result of a slightly less than successful first attempt at making meringue (pavlova)... Gonna stop waffling now!!

Cheers for the tips x

burekaboy — said...

rosa - that sounds like it should be lots of fun; no doubt you will all eat well at your bbq/picnic. idyllic, if anything, on the swiss countryside :)

i'm sure you'd like these. they really do turn out tasty; you may want to adjust the spices to suit your taste (i usually make them hotter than i put here).

TC - now, now, would i imply you couldn't cook?? LOL. roast lamb with rosemary-ed potatoes sounds wonderful. as for this eton mess, i had to go look it up; it sounds great. meringues can be a bit difficult depending on which variety you made (there are 3 kinds). usually the basic kind is easy: beat whites, incorporate sugar gradually (berry sugar works best), beat more, bake in slow oven. i only like my meringues completely dried out though, not soft and chewy. matter of taste, i guess. anyway, sounds like a GREAT dessert.

Maninas: Food Matters said...

hey burekaboy! I will definitely try to hunt down some allspice! I've tried my local supermarket, but couldn't find any. I shall just have to look further!

unfortunately, I don't know what keftas are... :(

burekaboy — said...

maninas - sainsbury's should have it, i imagine. either there, or for sure at a store carrying mideastern or caribbean foods. btw, you can get away with not adding it but it is a nice addition.

hmmm, i thought kefta/kafta/kofte was also croatian thing ... maybe you know it as a different name? anyway, it's similar but shaped differently. basically ground meat which is made into either a ball or finger shape and grilled. found this: [in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia, they are called ćufte (ћуфте) (singular ćufta (ћуфтa)]. for sure now, you'll know :D

Maninas said...

Hm, cufta sounds very familiar, but at the moment I can't think what it is... It's probably a dialectal word that I don't know. The thing is, I'm from Dalmatia, which is the coastal region, and the food is very sea-oriented, mediterranean, rather simple in fact. Lots of fish, herbs :) It's very different in other parts of Croatia though. It's only a tiny country, but there are huge geographical differences between the regions, so in turn the food is quite different, too. There is overlap, of course, though. But not in cuftas, or not that I know of! :)

There is something else though, that fits the description you gave: finger shaped, ground meat, lots of garlic. It's called cevapcici - another favourite take-away and barbeque meat! it's normally eaten in 'lepinja', a type of flat bread, and with 'ajvar'. Now, ajvar is something fantastic! It'sa spread/sauce made with red peppers, roast aubergine and chillies, and it's absolutely delicious! This is popular all over the ex Yugoslavia, and I also know it's eaten in Bulgaria. Last year I converted a Singaporean friend of mine to it, hehe! Have you heard of ajvar or sth similar by any chance?

burekaboy — said...

maninas - as with most things, foods get mutated region to region depending on local customs and available produce/foodstuffs so it stands to reason you say it doesn't sound familiar.

ajvar is sold in some of the stores around me in small glass jars but i don't like the one they carry too much; has a bitter edge to it, prolly from the eggplant, and the texture is weird. can't find the other brand they used to have which was more like a puree :(

aria said...

oooh bureka boy those look delish!

burekaboy — said...

hey aria - thanks :))

Maninas: Food Matters said...

oh no! i've just written you a long comment about food and different regions and it got deleted! oh i hate when this happens! auch! i find the food mutations from region to region a very interesting topic.

anyway, I managed to find allspice in a little obscure supermarket! this means I will be making these sausages soon! I have a friend coming to visit who appreciates this kind of food, and is a very good cook too, so she's a perfect candidate/victim for testing my experiments! I'll let you know how it goes!

Maninas: Food Matters said...

hey, just one question. i'm rather new to blogging, and i'm wondering if you know whether there is a way of keeping track of all the comments I've made, and being notified when people reply to them? Thanks!

burekaboy — said...

hi maninas - oh no! i can't count how many msgs i have lost and some of them fairly long. i feel your pain, LOL. damn, would have wanted to read that comment, too! ;P (next time, to safeguard, copy your longer comments before publishing them; if it screws up, you can just repaste it).

glad you were able to find the allspice. who knew it was so elusive in the UK. odd. btw, you can use it in rice dishes or meat ones (usually mixed with a bit of cinnamon) or in baking. you can add a bit more, say 1/8 - 1/4 tsp at most, to this recipe as i only put the minimum amount.

as for the comment trackback, yes, i know there is a way....first i have to think about it. it may be blog specific however. will look into it and let you know.

looking forward to hearing how the mititei turn out :))

Maninas: Food Matters said...

Actually, I have seen allspice in shops before, I'm sure of it, but then I couldn't see it when I needed it. Typical!

Anyhow, my mititei are in the fridge now, the flavours developing, until tonight! They looked and smelt amazing. Can't wait to try them!

burekaboy — said...

hey maninas - always happens that way; you see it until you need it and then it's nowhere to be found!

excited to hear the first part went off well! they smell good even before cooking, as you saw. hope you enjoy them. keep me posted and enjoy your dinner with your friend and bf :)) your side dishes sounded great. i'm jealous!

btw, i think you need to click on the RSS feed at the bottom of this window to see new msgs (when they're answered).

Maninas said...

i've already subscribed to the posts... how do i subscribe to comments? I don't see anything at the bottom of this little pop-up window.

the bf's missed out on the mititei tonight, meaning I shall have to repeat it soon! my friend and i've enjoyed them, though, as you can see from my post!

btw, i definitely recommend the chickpeas recipe. I think you'd like it. My friend doesn't normally like chickpeas, but she enjoyed it a lot!

Maninas said...

I forgot to add that a cold beer did help a lot! it always does, doesn't it? :)

burekaboy — said...

maninas - happy to hear all turned out well. thanks for the post you did about them.

as for the comments, if you click on the date of the post in blogger, at the bottom it says Post Comments (RSS). i believe if you click on that, it subscribes you to comment updates. it only works through the date however not with the pop up window.

chanit said...

ההורים שלי מסרו תודה רבה ! טעים :-)

burekaboy — said...

chanit - t'gidi l'hem b'vakashah :)