Mee what how? This is Romania’s version of a sausage. It’s like kofte, without the pistachios.
After a trip to visit my sister last year in Romania, I was culinarily inspired in many ways. Romanian food is definitely it’s own unique thing, drawing from the Mediterranean/Italy, Eastern Europe and Russia for an interesting mix of flavors.
Enter Mititei, or “Mici” (pronounced “meech”) for short. This is sort of their version of the kabob, or of kofte. It’s casing-free and skewer-free, just hand formed ground meat grilled really hot and served with a toothpick, mustard and a cold beer. As simple as it sounds, there is something really distinctive about mici. Luckily I happened upon this little blog and found someone that had done all the legwork so I didn’t have to. Which is just as well, because I think the author is Romanian, and I am not, which means she has a much better point of reference to authentic mici.
I made this two ways to see which was better. I had read that one of the distinctive things about mici was the use of suet (aka – beef fat). Since I couldn’t find suet or even tallow before making this recipe, I settled for what we do have plenty of in Texas: lard. Yes, I laced venison with lard. It seems a little “what’s the point” putting a bunch of plain-old, factory-farmed, partially-hydrogenated lard in with probably organic, grass grazing, wild meat, but I digress. That was one way I did it, because mici really needs to have an element of fat. The second way, I mixed half and half ground venison and organic, formerly happy, pasture raised ground beef. Other than that I made them both exactly the same. The trick to the classic spongey texture is to put gelatin in the broth, unless of course you’re using real bone broth that’s already gelatinous.
While the lard/venison combo definitely worked and made a nice spongey-textured sausage thanks to the gelatin broth, the beef/venison combo really did have more of that “je ne sais quoi” that makes mici mici. It was also much easer to work with and form into the free-form sausage. Once I get my hands on some suet or tallow, however, I will let you know if that makes a difference. For now, I have provided instructions for half beef half venison, but feel free to play around with it. While grilling, treat it like a hamburger so it doesn’t stick making sure each side is nice and charred before turning.
One more note: typically when it comes to cumin, I take a “more is more” approach. That approach actually doesn’t really work here. The blend of spices is subtle, letting the flavor of the meat shine through, so if you are like me and tend to scoop a little extra cumin in everything, then don’t. I know, too much cumin? I did not know that was possible.
|Prep time||3 hours|
|Cook time||10 minutes|
|Total time||3 hours, 10 minutes|
|Website||Home Cooking in Montana|
- 1lb ground venison
- 1lb ground beef (you could use pork or lamb, but beef is traditional)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or juice of about 1/2 a lemon)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 tablespoon savory
- 1 teaspoon allspice (ground)
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander (ground)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin (ground)
- 2 teaspoons pepper (ground)
- salt (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1/4 cup mince garlic (or one head cloves, peeled and smashed)
- 1/2 cup water
|Mix the baking soda and lemon juice and let it bubble. Stir a little to make sure the baking soda mostly dissolves. Mix the gelatin with the beef broth/stock in a small saucepan and gently warm until the gelatin until it dissolves. Do not let it boil. Set aside to cool. Cover the crushed garlic with the water and also warm gently on the stove until very fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then strain, reserving the water and tossing the garlic (or reusing it in something else).|
|Combine the two meats and mix (by hand or with the dough kneader on a mixer). Add the lemon juice/baking soda combo and mix again. Add all the spices and continue to mix until incorporated. Slowly, a little at a time, add the gelatin broth and keep hand mixing. Do the same with the garlic water. All told, you should end up mixing the meat for at least 15 minutes, to where it forms a paste that's almost like a very sticky ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate AT LEAST one hour, but 4 hours is better (or overnight).|
|Pull the meat out of the refrigerator and form into sausage-like logs. Put on a very hot grill, making sure to cook each side long enough that it won't stick (like a hamburger). Continue to grill until cooked through. Serve with buns or bread and mustard. They are also traditionally consumed with a cold beer. Just sayin'.|