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.
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!