~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Friday, January 15, 2010

Romanian Sausages...Mititei/Mici (or small ones)

Romanian Sausages...Mititei/Mici. Yes, finally a mititei recipe I am happy about! I just had to have this recipe in my collection of Romanian recipes. Most Romanians, if not all, appreciate really good mititei. For those of you who aren't Romanian, bear with me this time around:).

Well, I finally found the 'perfect' recipe for mititei using an old 1920's recipe written in Romanian. If you know Romanian, you can click on the link. Ok, I don't know for sure if the story is true, but the recipe was a winner! Granted, the recipe left out the amount of liquid that was needed and the salt amount. But who cares. I figured I could come up with my own amounts...and it worked.

I have tried making mititei for some time now, and have always been disappointed with the results. Texture and taste weren't there. I even used a food processor to "grind" the meat, hoping to get the right consistency of the meat....to no avail.The mititei should have a light and 'spongy' feel to them... definitely not dense. I know some people use other cuts of meat such as pork....but to me, the mititei should be all beef. I also did not know the exact spices that were used in a mititei recipe. I just wasn't able to come up with a winning recipe. I loved the combination of the spices used in this recipe. Somehow, I thought you would only use savory, garlic and salt...hmmm, what a revelation!

I remember eating mititei in Romania, and I could never even come close to anything like them. But the minute I bit into one of these, I knew it was pretty close. I am really excited about this recipe. Here are some shortcuts/secrets that have made this recipe a winner for me....

Now, the recipe has you boil beef bones to a gelatinous liquid. I know it would take some time to achieve that...quite a few hours, actually. I needed and wanted to make this recipe easy enough for the home cook. I chose to use some ready-made beef stock, to which I added some unflavored gelatin. This would "mimic" the homemade gelatinous beef stock the recipe required. I also chose to use a cut of beef that would be easily available to everyone and eliminate the hassle of finding the neck meat the recipe required.

I also researched the names of the spices and found that summer savory was the closest to the Romanian herb called "cimbru"...you could as well use regular savory. Thyme is too strong, it wouldn't work as well(that's my personal opinion). The recipe required "chimion turcesc" or Turkish cumin. Supposedly, it is just plain old cumin. I think, however, that it may be a bit different, as I found it just a bit overpowering. Nonetheless, the overall taste and texture was incredible! I am finally sharing my version for the best mititei, according to me(and a few others:))! I happened to make regular dinner size mititei, as well as a smaller appetizer version. I really hope you can give these a try and let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy...

UPDATE: Doing a bit more research, could the "Turkish cumin" be mistranslated? Could it be caraway seed?.... I really don't know... I have yet to try it with caraway.
Update 2:  Using a standard mixer to mix(knead) the meat works wonderful! Cuts down time and energy... and makes a beautiful "mici" paste.  
7/4/14. Ok, after making this again, I still enjoy mixing the mici paste by hand... I feel it ends up having a better texture.
Update 3. 7/4/14.  Experimenting with the recipe... made the mici paste using meat I had at my disposal... ended up using store-bought ground beef (1 lb organic grass-fed beef 85/15)+ used some veal osso bucco shanks(deboned and ground myself). I reduced some of the spices/garlic but basically kept the other ingredients as posted. Also to cut down on time, I started grinding and mixing in the early AM and finished second part of the mixing late PM.... grilled the following day. For grilling, I started the mici on high heat, seared all sides(making sure you turn only after the meat naturally releases from the grill without forcing them)... and then  I lowered the heat and turned the mici often until cooked to medium. Loved the result. Attached new photos.
Note:  If you think you might find the spices too strong(or overpowering).... opt to mix the spice mixture and use less of it.

Tip: if you are thinking of freezing the uncooked mititei, don't. It won't be the same, somehow the gelatin breaks down, and as you cook them, the liquid seeps right out of them. Believe me, I tried:) They are still pretty good, but not the same.

You will need: This makes about 25 mititei
1 kg(2.25lbs) beef chuck
3 tsps summer savory(or regular savory, if you can't find summer savory)
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp Turkish cumin (or caraway?)
1/4 tsp star anise, ground
1 tsp+a pinch kosher salt
2 tsps freshly ground pepper
2 tsp baking soda ( I used 2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 cup beef stock
1 head of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup warm water


Day 1:
1. Get your beef and spices all ready, along with the lemon juice and baking powder.
2. Grind beef 3 times. Yes, 3 times...ok, if you insist 2x (but I did mine 3x)! That is very important. Do not cut any fat out! The fat plays a very important role by making the mititei tender and juicy.
3. Place the meat in a large bowl.

4. Combine spices including salt and set aside.
5. Combine gelatin and beef broth and set aside to dissolve.
6. After it has dissolved, warm the gelatin broth to about 140 deg F...to activate the gelatin. Don't allow to boil, as boiling will deactivate the gelatin and it won't work properly. You just want the broth to get hot.
7. Let gelatin mixture cool slightly... setting it aside.
8. Add the lemon juice to baking soda. Let it sizzle.
9. Add baking soda mixture to the ground beef.
10. Mix the meat with your hands to incorporate the baking soda. (or do this in a mixer)
11. Add spices and 1/2 cup of previously warmed beef -gelatin broth( that has been cooled down a tiny bit) ... a little at a time as you mix the meat mixture with your hands.
12. Continue mixing and adding spices/broth for 30-40 minutes. Yes your hand will hurt! But this step is very important. The meat mixture will begin to stick to your hand. You will eventually feel the meat sort of become like a "bread dough", if you can imagine that(I've contemplated on doing this in a mixer, haven't personally done it so... I've used the mixer to knead the meat and it works wonderful! I use the paddle attachment and beat on medium for 10-15 minutes. Highly recommend the mixer!).
13. Cover the bowl well with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
14. Place the rest 1/2 cup gelatin broth in the fridge as well....it will solidify in the fridge.

Day 2:

1. Take meat out and let it come to room temp. Warm( don't boil) the gelatin broth until it is liquefied (it should have become gelatinous from sitting in the fridge overnight).
2. Crush whole head of garlic.
3. Add warm water to the crushed garlic and let it sit for a half hour.
4. Strain garlic and reserve the garlic-water.
5. Mix meat with your hands while adding the rest of the broth a little at a time. Do this for 15 minutes. 6. Add the garlic water little by little and mix again for another 15 minutes.
7. Cover meat well and refrigerate for another day or for another few hours. In case you do this in the morning, and want to fire the grill in the evening.
8. Otherwise, let sit in the fridge until next day.

Day 3 (or Day 2 evening):

1. Take meat out and bring to room temp.
2. Shape the mititei into about 3 inch long by 1 1/2 inch thick.
3. Brush with oil on all sides.
4. Heat up grill on high.
5. Oil the grill so that the mititei will not stick.
6. Place mititei on the hot oiled grill....still on high heat.
7. Turn mititei about 3-4 times, a total of about 6-7 minutes (as per my grill during winter time). You can brush the mititei with a garlic water(similar to the one that is added to the meat mixture)... as you grill them(I skipped that). Just be careful and don't burn them or overcook them. If need be test one for doneness.
8. Serve with a side of fries and a bit of Dijon mustard. You can likewise serve them with some fresh french bread, accompanied by some Dijon mustard.We absolutely loved the mititei! Hope you enjoy yours as well.


Speranta said...

Ce gustosi sunt ...rata foarte deliciosi

Ellie said...

Iti multumesc...sant bucuroasa ca iti place.~Ellie

Diego said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with this recipe. Question: the 1920 recipe also calls for a significant amount of pepper -did you find that not necessary?

Ellie said...

Boy, thanks for catching that omission in my recipe! I did use the amount of pepper the recipe required~exactly 2 tsps(8grams). I have included it in the recipe, now:). Thanks so much for making me aware of it! Let me know if you try it....~Ellie

Cat said...

Ellie....(nu stiu daca sa iti scriu in Romana sau in Engleza.) I do not know for sure if I should write to you in Romanian or in English, but if you can, get in touch with me and I will let you in on the secret about the puffiness of the minced meat rolls.
Nonetheless, congratulations on tackling the recipe !

Ellie said...

Cat, Thanks for stopping by...We really like these mititei. I know they might require a bit more work, but it is well worth it. You can always contact me via email~see the contact me link on my blog. Have a great day!~Ellie

Anonymous said...

Elie, what does tsp stand for in the measuring of spices, I'm going to try this recipe today I'll keep you posted how it turned out. thanks Dino

Ellie said...

Dino, Sorry, I am getting back to you this late. But to answer your question~ for this recipe, and all my recipes, Tsp means teaspoon. I hope you enjoyed the mititei. ~Ellie

Anonymous said...

Ellie, I think what the original recipe means by turkish cumin is the "black cumin" or black caraway as it is referred to. It is a rare type of cumin found in Kashmir, Iran and Pakistan. It tastes somewhere between cumin and caraway. The regular light cumin called Turkish just means that it was grown there. (it does smell a little more floral than the one grown somewhere else.) I don't know if you can get the black cumin in the US.

Ellie said...

Anon, Thanks for the helpful information. I didn't know about the black cumin so I appreciate the tip. Now, I am wanting to look into it... I am thinking I may be able to find some online. It would wonderful if I can get it. Thanks so much for your help...I really appreciate you taking the time to share the information with me. I am always SO thankful for the insight/tips readers share. So thank you!

Bea said...

I’m excited to find your blog and trying your mititei recipe. I have a question on the meat. Would you do this with store bought ground beef? Do you think the size of the grind would be the same? I already have ground beef. Should I run it through my grinder another time or two? Or should I stick with grinding it myself?
Thank you

Ellie said...

Bea, Thanks for stopping by...and for wanting to tackle the mititei recipe:).
You could probably get away with using store-bought ground meat...I know others have. But I probably wouldn't recommend it...personally. Just because grinding the meat yourself, will give you better results. You can control the amount of fat and the cut of meat you use. At the same time, I hate to have you go out and buy another piece of meat when you already have ground meat on hand...but it's up to you.(I'd probably give it a trial run using the store bought meat...and see how that goes...and then on another try buy the meat and grind it.)
If you care to use the ground meat you already have, then you will need to grind it again once or twice more... the grind from the store version doesn't matter.
In the end, when you grind the meat yourself, you will most often get better results.
I hope you enjoy them...either way you choose to make them:). Would love to hear how they came out for you.

Unknown said...

Ellie...I made then this weekend for 6 Romanians and they all agreed they tasted delicious.
When I measured out the spices, I though it would be too much, but stuck with it and was surprised how good they tasted. That really is part of the secret taste of them.
On the gelatin, I noticed at the end that not all had completely dissolved. what I set aside in the fridge was not as congealed as I thought it would be and that may have been the reason. Don't know if that made a difference or not.
They shrunk a lot more then I anticipated.
I think part of my problem is I had a lady from Romania and I was told not to brush oil on them...they will form a crust, she said. anyway, forgot to oil the grill before placing them on so they stuck, could not turn them quick enough and as a result overcooked and was probalby the cause of the shrinkage.
They could have also used some more fat, that's the result of not grinding my own meat. I will try them again and grind my own meat and make sure to oil them and the grill.
Thanks for the response and posting the recipes. Thorley enjoy your blog. looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

Ellie said...

Bea, So glad you were able to try out the mititei... and thank you so much for taking the time to write your feedback on them.
I can see that you were able to troubleshoot the problems you encountered...for next time:).
Initially, I too thought the amount of spices was too much ...but it is just the right amount. I am glad you also agree. It just makes the mititei taste... like mititei should:).

Yes, the gelatin should have been dissolved completely...
And yes, half of the trick to getting the mititei just right is in the grilling... if they stick then a lot of the juice will seap out when you try to turn them .and then the mititei will shrink. But overcooking the meat will also dry them out and that can cause shrinkage as well. It is best to cook them a little bit under...and then allow them to rest...they will continue to cook further as its juices will then get redistributed throughout the meat....it's basically the same method as when grilling a steak.
But Bea, I think you already know what could be improved on...and I am so glad you are willing to give them another try:).
Thank you so much for your kind words about the blog...I really appreciate it.
Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Ellie: Thanks for your recipe its perfect. Just a little additions (thanks to my Aunt). Substitute water with soda water for the Garlic Vanilla. For fast assembly for large parties, roll the Mici with seran wrap like a sushi roller, its fast and easy to make them this way.

-Mark (Mircea)

Ellie said...

Mark, Thanks for your feedback and for the great tips. I am assuming you meant garlic water, instead of the garlic vanilla:)...
I love the idea of rolling the mici in saran wrap...will make it so much easier for larger groups.
Thank you so much for sharing...I really appreciate it!

Testing said...

I am so glad to have found you! I have been looking for Romanian mititei recipe for a long time. Can't wait to try it.

Ellie said...

Testing, I'm hoping you will enjoy then as much as we do:)! Thanks for stopping by...

Daniela said...

Searching for mititei recipes I found your site. Wow! Thank you for sharing. I will definitely try out this recipe to the word. Out of all I’ve found out there, this is the one I picked to follow. I've forwarded this link to some of my friends too.

Ellie said...

Daniela, Thanks for stopping by... I sure hope you enjoy this recipe for mititei. There's a few things to keep in mind...most of them I posted in the recipe and comments.... just make sure your beef chuck has a good amount of fat, and try not to overcook the mititei on the grill.
The gelatin needs to be thoroughly dissolved.... and plenty of mixing of the meat mixture is required:). Do check out the link to the original recipe and read it for more info... it helps to get a main idea before starting:).
Anyway, I hope you have success with them:)... have a great day!

Lerii said...

Salut Ellie am cautat de mult receta de mititei si am gasit aceasta care imi place o sa incerc peste 2 saptamini la ziua feciorului meu care o sa aiba doi anisori sper sa mi se primeasca.Multumesc pentru receta

Ellie said...

Lerii, Multumesc pentru vizita... sper sa iti placa si tie retata asta de mititei( si celorlalti). Reteta ia un pic timp de preparat, dar cred ca merita... noua ne place mult.
La multi ani baietelului tau:)...

Felipe Arruda said...

It`s really hard to find 'savory' in where I live (Northeastern Brazil), and I really want to get the Mititei done right.. What other ingredient(s) could I use instead? Any tips!? Thanks anyway for the great post!

Ellie said...

Felipe,I could try using thyme instead of the savory... even though it's not the same, it's probably the next best herb to use. I'd probably use less of it in the recipe.
Another option is to buy it online, or even better, buy some seeds online and plant it yourself:). Summer savory( or cimbru in Romanian) is an annual herb... so you could dry it yourself, if you ever plant it.
Hope this helps a bit. Thanks for stopping by... and I wish you success with the recipe.

Romfoody said...

Salut Ellie!

I made this recipe (the one from Caru' cu bere) a few years ago. Very interesting and a lot spicier than the mici you find in Romania today. It tasted a lot more 'Turkish' than modern mici.

By the way, I think the Turkish cumin is just regular cumin. I found an article (in Turkish) which stated that Turkish cumin refers to cuminum cyminum (regular cumin) and Egyptian cumin to carum carvi (caraway). Of course, the article could be wrong too!

I'm waiting for the weather to get a bit better so I can make another batch for the barbeque. Sadly, most people just buy ready-made mici from the supermarket there days.

Ellie said...

Hi Romfoody, Thanks for sharing the information about the cumin...
Interestingly enough I felt the regular cumin I used was the only ingredient that sort of stood out from all the other flavors.... I've seen plenty of recipes for mici that use caraway instead of the cumin. But, honestly, I wouldn't know for sure... So I've left that up to each of us to decide:)
I am not sure how the mici taste like nowadays... The last time I had mici in Romania, was well over 10 years ago. These ones I made reminded me of the ones I had in Romania....things have changed. Now, mici can vary from place to place... and as you mentioned, they now come prepared and ready to be put on the grill.
I actually love this recipe... and like you, can barely wait to make a batch:). But thanks for stopping by... it was good to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

One of my best friends growing up was Romanian. I used to LOVE Mici night! She made it from scratch and it was sooooo delicious. I have lost touch with them, and I have been searching for the perfect MIci recipe, and them to try and finagle it out of her. Although, I am sure getting that recipe out of her would be like getting my Marinara recipe out of me. Good luck. With that being said, I can not wait to try this. It sounds so promising! Can't wait! Now to convince my husband I NEED a new grinder and not the (literally) 100 year old hand grinder. Thanks!

Ellie said...

Anon, I'm not sure if this recipe will be like your friends, but we like them:). And hopefully you will too.
I think you can then alter spices according to preference, but it's totally worth grinding your own meat...
Wishing you success with the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ellie.

I made some mici using your receipe, and the Turkish cumin might not be the regular cumin as it is suggested. This site sells both for a different price.
Turkish cumin sells for $6.99 for a 4 oz bottle, while regular ground cumin sells for $3.39 for a 5.5 oz bottle....I say "might" b/c I'm not so sure...

I also think that Turkish cumin is not the same as caraway seed, although they both look the same...

Anyway, the mici came out great, however the spices are a bit overpowering. I would suggest a bit more meat for the same amount of spices. Instead of 2.2 lbs, make it 2.5, or even closer to 3lbs ground chuck. The meat should be with a bit more fat, leaner beef would tend to make the mici a bit drier. But so far I found your receipe the closest to the original taste.

Ellie said...

Anon, I'm glad you tried the recipe... it is the closest recipe I've personally come across... at least to what I remember eating in Romania.

I wouldn't be surprised if there is a difference between different types of cumin. As there is with paprika found here in the states and paprika from Hungary... and so on. Prices and flavors differ.

So coming up with the"perfect spice" will probably vary for each of us. I know there are a ton of recipes that use cumin and caraway.... or one or the other. Others even use more than what is listed here.... and some less:).

But the only spice I struggled with ( that I felt dominated the flavor) was the cumin.... maybe it was the type of cumin I used. And truthfully, it all depends on personal taste... some like the mici with lots of flavor while others like it more mild. Some like the cumin, while others like the caraway.

But I think you are right in increasing the amount of meat ... if the first time you made it, you found the spices too strong... I would probably just mix the spice together and use less of it.

And yes, fat plays a major role in having the mici not be too dry. Add a bit of extra fat if the meat is too lean.

But I'm glad you still enjoyed the recipe regardless:)...
And the really neat thing about making it next time... you can adjust the spices to preference.

I really appreciate your input and feedback... thanks so much for stopping by!

Dragos said...

My mouth is watering... I'm making mici over the weekend for sure. Thanks for the recipe.

Ellie said...

Dragos, Hope you enjoy the mici.... they're a bit of work, but I think worth it.

Just keep in mind to really mix the meat, and it's also quite important not overcook them on the grill. Spice amounts are up to your taste.... so feel free to adjust. But I hope you have fun making them... and thanks for stopping by.

siggy said...

I made your mititei recipe last week. My son who eats practically nothing loved them. My parents were both born in Romania and happening across your site brought back food memories. I posted on my very new blog a recipe for kieftele today.
It's http://myhomesweetharvest.blogspot.com

Ellie said...

Oh, Siggy, that's wonderful! So glad your family loved the mici. I am thrilled that I could bring a bit of Romania through food and memories. Just makes my day when someone else enjoys what I've posted:)... So I really appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback and thoughts. Now, off to see your kiftele:)

Anonymous said...

I made a change to the meat content. I used 1 lb of lamb an 1 lb of pork meat. Is that blasphemy? Not sure why I remember lamb and pork as the meat ingredients.

Ellie said...

Anon, You can use whatever meat you like. I'm thinking the pork and lamb mixture will give you more tenderness and moistness( especially if you use a fattier cut of meat)in the mititei.... which is why most folks tend to want to use some pork or lamb meat in any ground meat mixture... such as meatballs, meatloaf, ground meat kebab etc,

The beauty of cooking at home is to be able to add ingredients and spices as one chooses... be it pork,lamb, or beef. Add what you like and enjoy them! Make them your own... I think that's what counts:)

But thanks for stopping by...

Adina said...

Eu stiu ca micii acasa se fac din carne de oaie, sau la mine in zona sigur doar din oaie se fac. Ingredientul care le da gustul ciudat e bicarbonatul, in rest usturoi si ce se pune de obicei.

Ellie said...

Adina, Cred ca sant multe varietati de mititei... depinde de zona, asa cum ai spus si tu. Sa sti ca mititei numai din carne de oaie chiar nu am avut pana acum... stiu ca se face mititei din carne combinata de mai multe feluri... de vaca, miel, porc. Dar iti multumesc pentru idee de a face mici din carne de oaie, Am cumparat niste carne de miel zilele trecute, poate o sa incerc reteta cu carne de miel numai... de oaie nu cred ca gasesc aici.

Agreez cu tine, ca bicarbonatul este ingredientul specific al mititeilor Romanesti...care diferentiaza de celelate retete din alte tari pentru carnati, kebab, etc...

Si framantarea carnilor pana se face o pasta cred ca este important. Oricum, retete de mititei sant multe, dar ce este important este sa le facem cum ne place fiecaruia:).

Multumesc mult de idee... si pentru vizita:)

Anonymous said...

Outstanding recipe....
They came out great , but I used 1kg of lean beef and 150 gr of sheep fat, and 2 tsp of thyme instead of savory...
Fluffyyyy...puffyyyy...u name it...they exceeded my expectations. I have a tip for u : insted of killing your arms with the kneeding, pleeeease do yourself a favour and use the dough blade of the food processor or the hook of Kitchen Aid. It does a perfect job, plus saves time, it doesn't interfere with the results, I promise.
Thank u for posting this recipe.
Regards Oana K

Ellie said...

Oh,Oana... I am so thrilled you enjoyed the mici. I really appreciate your feedback... I absolutely love the way you made this recipe your own.... and I really like the idea of using some extra fat. I think it adds that extra moistness. Thank you for sharing your version.

As for kneading the dough using a mixer, it is a fantastic idea! Thank you for bringing it up... interestingly enough when I originally made this recipe so I could post it, I placed the meat mixture in the bowl of my kitchenaid mixer... last minute I decided to make it according to the traditional method by hand mixing ... just so it would be doable, even for those who didn't have a mixer. But I am so glad you brought the idea up, I am hoping it will help others as well. So, Thank you! And I really appreciate you taking the time to write... Means a ton!

Dan said...

Someone mentioned above that they are made with sheep meat. Personally, I don't think it's the meat that gives them their specific taste, it's the spices. You can use badger meat for all I care as long as it has the right fat content. I've eaten mici in Botosani, Constanta, Sibiu, Timisoara, you name the place. With slight variations in the taste, they are all good. We all know that uncle, that friend of a friend, that aunt from Romania that has the best recipe, don't we? And they all use different meats, or different cuts, or different mineral water. Anyway Ellie, I give you all the credit in the world for what you are doing on your blog and of course, the kitchen. Some of us may even become better cooks because of it.
Cheers, Dan D.

Ellie said...

Dan, Aww... thank you so much for your kind comment. Made my day... and even made me chuckle(badger meat:)! Well said, though... and I agree with you. For me it was the spices and sponginess(from the fat and "kneading") that brought the mititei up a notch from all the other homemade mici I've tried. Interestingly, one day I happened to mention the recipe to my sister-in-law... happened to have the spice mixture in a small container, so I quickly grabbed it to show it to her. The minute I opened it, my sister-in-law commented, " Oh, it smells like mititei."

I'm well aware of all the other variations out there... and everyone is entitled to make the mititei to personal preference. I, for one, was excited with the recipe and wanted to share it with others. If one other person likes the recipe, then it really makes my day! If I can be of inspiration and if I can make a recipe come alive for someone else, then I've accomplished more than I've ever imagined. So, Dan, thank you kindly for taking the time to stop by and for your encouraging words. Really, really appreciate it!

Dan said...

Hello again Ellie, hope you had a Merry Christmas with your family. I'm doing a follow up on this recipe and I'm sorry to say that I'm very disappointed the way they came out. I tried both ways with teaspoons and grams measurements and I used 2 1/2 lbs of beef every time. There are some spices in the recipe that don't belong there, I just can't put my finger on it. Yes, they did come out very spicy indeed. Now, I don't know if I could trust that 1920's recipe at all. I'm thinking that one would not give away the secret to anyone regardless of social status. If I did that, you will not come back to my restaurant and that will not be good for business. Don't know, I'm just thinking out loud. I will not give up though, I'll continue to play with quantities here and there and maybe one day I'll get it right. Anyway, thank you again for all your posts and keep up the good work. Happy New Year to you and your family! Dan D.

Ellie said...

Hi Dan, Thanks you for your kind comment and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas as well.

Thanks so much for your feedback on the mititei... and I'm sorry to hear you didn't like the spices in the meat. I have to agree with you on one of the spices in particular... the cumin. I, too felt the cumin was a bit overpowering... and I mentioned it in the post. But aside from the cumin amount, we really enjoyed them with the amounts listed. Maybe it's a personal taste... but I'm thinking you can really cut down some of the spices... or even eliminate one or two.

And, yes I too would question someone giving out the "real" recipe... but you know, this 1920's version is the closest I've come to what I remember. And for me it was one step closer. Now, what I remember may be a bit different than what others remember:).

In any case, I am glad you are still willing to play around with the spices.... would really love to know if you can come up something better.
But, Dan, I really appreciate your honesty with the recipe... it means a ton that you've tried it!

Wishing you and your family a joyous New Year... and thank you again for your kind words!

Laszlo said...

Hi Ellie,

I'v been traveling to Cluj Napoca many times during the last two years, and eating mititei at various roadside restaurants was one of my favourite. I also brought back tons of ready made mici from Cora, Sellgros etc, and although they were OK, I always felt that I have try and prepare it fresh. Now, I finally found the recipe to start with!
Congrats to your blog!

Laszlo from Budapest

Ellie said...

Lazlo, Oh, I'm quite jealous that you had all this opportunity to eat mici while traveling:). I still remember a few years back when I visited Bucharest, was staying in an apt and walking distance to a meat market that sold ready made mici... bought some to fry in a pan. They sufficed for the moment, but felt they weren't the best cooked in a pan.

The neat thing about making them at home is that you can play around with the spices, meat and method. I just came back from NYC and had some ROmanian mici there... and while they were fluffy as can be, the baking soda was overwhelming.

Now even with this recipe, spices can be overwhelming to some, so I suggest you go by what you think you like... the main idea is to mix, mix and mix:). Get the meat into a paste, and don't overcook.
Hope you enjoy them, though... and thanks for stopping by!

mihai said...

Caraway is the main spice in kabanosy, typically 2 grams per 1kg of meat,
Radu anton roman, in his cookbook, also uses "chimen".

Another trick i heard of is to use about 10 grams of bread crumbs per 1kg of meat. It holds the juice better.

8gr of pepper seems to be a bit on the spicy side. But it depends on the pepper and its freshness. The pepper i use is from Costco, coarse ground. 4 - 5 gr is spicy enough.

The best re source on sausages is


Ellie said...

Mihai, Thanks for the info... for some reason when I weighed my pepper initially, on my scale, 8 grams came to be 2 teaspoons, and looking the conversion up, I read 8 grams is more like 5 teaspoons! I find that a bit on the spicy side as well. I don't work with grams, so when I converted the grams to teaspoons, I used my personal scale.. and that's what I have included in my post. I find the spices just right . I made this recipe a few days ago and used half of the cumin amount I listed and added half caraway... Liked it better. But as I noted in the recipe above it's best to lower the amount of spices if one feels they might be too strong.

adriana said...

Ellie, where can you find unflavored gelatin? And the meat is not sold in a department store, correct? Let me know, please where you can find these items. Thanks...-Adriana

Ellie said...

Adriana, You can find the meat and unflavored gelatin in a regular supermarket. The gelatin should be in the baking aisle(or you could ask an employee to direct you if it isn't there)...
The meat is in the fresh meat department... where they have packages labeled as chuck meat( again you could ask the butcher to show you).
Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to find your site with such great recipes. My mother and her family are from Romania. My mom had a much simpler, yet delicious recipe. In the summer we would grill several batches on the old charcoal b-b-q, let them cool, pop them into plastic bags and FREEZE. You cannot imagine opening that bag from the microwave and savoring the smell of spices and charcoal while munching on a filled hard roll, with German mustard, in the middle of a cold, snowy day. Delicious memories.

Ellie said...

Anon, I'm so glad you stopped by... oh, the memories that linger with us:)! Sounds like your mom was a wonderful cook, and... wise! I can only imagine how delicious those mici were during the winter!

It's memories like these that brings us joy... and a thankful heart. I often replicate foods from my childhood... for the mere fact of reliving those delicious moments:).

Thanks for sharing... and for stopping by.
Enjoy your visit here!

Anonymous said...

I just tried a different recipe of mici, and while I did get the flavor right, the texture was just way off. So I'm looking forward to trying your recipe -- sounds just about right. I remember my dad did boil the bones to make a thick soup, which he added to the mix (bones had to have marrow), and I did remember the conversation about kneading them for an hour at least, until the mixture peels clean off your hand.

For a large gathering, you can use a sausage making attachment to your meat grinder, and simply catch each mititel with wet hands as it comes out.

On the spice side, the typical Romanian sausage spice has thyme, black pepper and coriander seeds. Cumin may be added -- finely ground and in small quantities. And no, caraway seeds will not do as a substitute, even though many recipes prefer them. Garlic -- while not added to this commercially available (in Romania) mix, -- is a 4th indispensable ingredient.

The garlic water is a bit more involved in my house. We crush the cloves with salt in a wooden tall mortar (get it wet first, for 30 minutes or so, so that it does not absorb the juices in the wood). When the garlic is completely mushed up, add a little water. No need to remove the garlic if it was properly crushed and mushed. We use that garlic water both in the meat mixture, and as a basting sauce -- for mici as well as for any other grille meat. It even is tasty server on a cold, large freshly picked tomato ... For us southerners, that garlic water (Mujdei) is an essential flavor when we grill. If you do have a Mexican grocery store where you are, check out the volcanic rock mortar and pestils. I believe that to be a great alternative to the traditional Romanian garlic mortar (pisalog).

Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe, and for the way you provided some modern alternatives while still providing the original!!!!

Srgian Paitich said...

Great recipes,
I'm happy I found your site,
I would like to share a few derails:
1. You can mix all the spices in the blender, together with the bone soup / beef soup.
2. You can use a small sausage stuffer, this will help with shaping the mititei fast.
Fast freezing is also very important, for later consumption.
Good luck
Not sure if you added the oil ( undelemn ? in the meat mix ? it helps )
Noroc !
Thanks for sharing ,

Ellie said...

Anon, Thank you for sharing your thoughts on making mititei... I really appreciate you taking the time to comment .
I am sure the recipe can be tweaked to one's preference... and yes, making a garlic paste will also work. I have to admit that I like the garlic water, as it's easier on my stomach. In any case, the points you mentioned are worth trying. Sure hope you end up getting the texture right...

Thanks so much for stopping by... would love to hear your input if you end up trying the recipe.

Ellie said...

Srgian, Thanks for your thoughts and tips on the mititei. I really appreciate you taking the time to write your input.... love the idea of a sausage stuffer. But for those who don't own one, handmade is still doable:).

Adding oil to the meat could help... but if you have enough fat, it should be just fine. However, I've added oil to lean burger patties myself and it does help with moisture:).

Thanks so much for stopping by!

dragos filimon said...

Poti sa gasesti condimentele gata amestecate pe Amazon.com Condimente Pentru Mititei ( Minced Meat Seasoning) -25 g
by Fuchs

Ellie said...

Dragos, Multumesc mult pentru ajutor in gasi condimentele gata pregatite la Amazon. Chiar nu am stiut, poate ajuta si pe altii... Se vede ca acum poti gasi aproape tot pe Internet:)

Daniel&Ligia said...

Hi Ellie,

Thank God for people like you who take the time to share their knowledge of wholesome recipies!

Normally, my wife does the cooking in our family, but this year I am trying to take the 'bull by horns' and turn it into mititei myself; pun intended!-) I do look forward to try some of your recipies.

Anyway, here are some basic questions, about preparing mici:

1. Have you tried baking powder instead of soda/lemon juice? I think this is worth trying... Me thinks, this should help with the fluffiness as well as getting the baking soda/juice ratios straight.

2. I plan to use ground beef to start with (for reasons that remain to be revealed, if all works as expected!-). What fat % do you recommend? That is, would 88% be too lean? 73% too rich?

3. Have you tried to add the spices first and then the baking soda/lemon? Hopefully, the chemistry does not change either way... BTW, I was surprised that you mixed the baking soda/lemon separately and then added the mixture to the meat. That seems counter intuitive to my chemistry background/purpose of adding the soda...

Disclaimer: I realize that I am a novice cook, so while I don't expect you to elaborate on the ABC of cooking, feel free to point me to your favorite basic cooking source(s).

Finally, the link to the Caru-Cu-Bere recipe was much appreciated for several reasons. For one, I learned that they actually looked down on 'pros' that mixed meats. Of course, there are 'good' reasons for mixing meats, but it is interesting to have the 'historical' view of Caru-Cu-Bere. It could be that lamb/mutton was cheaper than beef back then, but for those who like lamb, I find it quite acceptable to use non-beef and/or mix meats for flavoring purposes.

May God richly bless you and your family,

Ellie said...

Hi Daniel, Thank you for stopping by... and your kind words. Really appreciate it!

I am excited to hear that you are willing to make the mititei at home. It's definitely a project worth undertaking. I would love to hear your feedback, with any changes you make.

As for answering your questions I'll do my best with my limited knowledge. I find I am constantly learning myself. However I am more than happy to share what I know...

When it comes to baking soda, it is used differently here in the mititei recipe.. not applied for the same properties(leavening action) as when used in a baking recipe.

Baking soda, in a meat recipe, acts as a tenderizer...

Long story short, baking soda(which is a mild alkali) raises the pH of meat. The higher the pH in meat the more tender the meat.

Here's a good read that gives a bit more info on the chemistry aspect:


Baking soda will react when heated or combined with an acid. You will get the normal carbonation(which will fizz away) along with water... but you will also end up with another byproduct known as a "salt".... sodium carbonate(heat), sodium acetate(vinegar) and sodium citrate(lemon juice). These salts all act as tenderizers.

I mention this only because I think(personal opinion)the success of the mititei comes from proper mixing and tenderization... I believe that's what makes the mititei fluffy and "bouncy". But I could be wrong:).

As for using baking powder instead of the baking soda/lemon juice, well, I'll admit I never thought of using it. It sounds like a great idea... will you get the tenderization AND the carbonation for extra fluffiness(upon heating) as you would when baking? Well, that would definitely be worth trying. I'd probably be very careful with amounts, as too much baking powder would give you a bitter/soapy taste.

I think one of the reasons that vinegar/lemon juice is added to the baking soda in this recipe is to take the baking soda taste away(or most of it anyway).

These are just some of my findings after numerous articles I've read.

As for the fat percentage I would look into keeping it anywhere between 80-85% for best flavor and texture.

I am glad you found the link to Caru cu Bere useful... yes, you can definitely use whatever meat you prefer. I think we ought to cook according to taste:).

I didn't mean to be long in my answer... but maybe others will benefit from the tidbits of info.

I know I was excited when I first learned that baking soda acts as a meat tenderizer...and was actually used in Chinese cooking... long ago.

I am still playing with the mititei recipe myself, so I am always eager to hear the feedback of others.

Some of the my best learning came from Cook's Illustrated/ America's Test Kitchen cookbooks/videos. You can go on their sites(need paid subscription to access their recipes). But they do a lot of the leg work for us:)... testing and retesting recipes in their own kitchens with plenty of science guys helping out.

Anyway, hope this helps somewhat:) ... and enjoy the mititei project.

God's blessings to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

My family is up in Connecticut now and we are looking for a good Mici recipe as the closest place appears to be Queens, NY.

So to my surprise the best one happens to be Mici in Montana!

Don't forget the Mufatlar, and mamaliga!

cheers and thanks,

Ellie said...

Anon, It's always nice to try a recipe at home from scratch:)... especially when you are so far away from a convenient source.

The mici are definitely a project worth undertaking. I'm not sure the best are here in Montana:), but they'll do for us!

Thanks for stopping by... and have fun in CT with the family!

QUEDRO said...

I found this post by researching the "best" recipes for mititei. I am myself from Rep.Moldova so I grew up with "mici" and now in US I am trying to pick up a good recipe for myself.
My uncertainty is which spices to use, since all the recipes list somewhat a different mix.
Below is listed all the spices I found so far to be used:
*Cumin (chimion)
*Caraway (chimen)
*Anise (anason)
*Thyme (cimbru)
*Savory (cimbru)
*Turkish Yenibahar (Ienibahar) - I found in English this to be "Allspice"

From my knowledge I think the baking soda mixed with carbonated mineral water creates the texture/puffiness, however that typical mititei taste comes mostly from savory and the mix of other spices above.
Most of the recipes I found include caraway seeds and savory/thyme. A Romanian website listed Ienibahar.

Ellie said...

Thanks Quedro for the information... and listing the spices normally found in "mici". I realize that one needs to try a few versions and adjust to taste.

I agree that savory is an important spice that sets the "mici" apart from other various grilled meat counterparts. To me the flavor baking soda adds to the mici(as well as the "puffiness/tenderness) is yet another attribute that sets the mici apart. In any case, I hope you've come to a recipe that satisfies:).

Thanks a bunch for stopping by...

Arthur Karbowski said...

Do you add the crushed garlic or just the water?

Ellie said...

Arthur, You add only the strained garlic water... Hope that helps.

Greg said...


I am very late to the party. I found your site by accident while searching for KARNATZEL which is a dried Jewish thin sausage which appears to be only available in Montreal (and perhaps Ottawa). However, a woman (Leah Perez) posted a recipe for Karnatzel which she said was also known as Mititei (it really isn't from what I have read) and so I am getting ready to take a stab at your recipe.

I am a novice. I do not have a meat grinder, nor a mixer, but do have a good food processor. Can that be used?

I am really fortunate as I live in an area that has bulk food stores ( bulkbarn.ca) where I can buy any quantity of spices I need so will be able to get small quantities and experiment.

There are only two of us to eat this treat and so I also want to cut the recipe down in size. Are there any caveats to that?

Thanks in advance.


Ellie said...

Greg, Welcome:)... glad you stopped by. The recipe can certainly be cut down in size without too many problems. As for using the food processor, you might be able to get away with it, being mindful of not over processing the meat and using very cold if not partially frozen meat. Another option is to use ready ground meat which works just as well. My mom and friends have used already ground beef 20 percent fat and they have excellent results. I'd probably go that route as a first try... You can then adjust recipe accordingly the next time you make them. I sure hope you have success with it:)! As a side note, I've also made these without the 2 day process, simplyfying it a bit, by doing it all in one day, starting in the morning and grilling them in the evening. Hope that helps...

Ricattino G said...

Ellie, do yourself a favor: do not use star anise, gelatin and lemon juice! They don't belong, you probably are looking at a 100 year old recipe. Also, summer savory (cimbru) has a total different flavor in US. You will be much better off using dry Greek oregano instead. You may want to incorporate a little lamb meat with some fat on it. Maybe about 200 gr.Try it and if you have a Romanian friends have them taste it.

Ellie said...

Ricattino, I agree the recipe is old... and is exactly what intrigued me to even try it:). I too was a bit skeptical, but having made it quite a few times, and I still stand by the recipe😊. I agree summer savory may not be cimbru, but it is the closest to it in my opinion. The Greek oregano sounds off to me, but having said that, it would still be worth trying. I am not sure if you've tried the recipe, but it's worth doing it at least once and adjusting or lowering the spices a bit if need be. Then you can go from there on your own to adjust accordingly...

Your version almost sounds like a gyro style meat mixture... It definitely wouldn't be bad, as I love gyros:)!

Thanks a ton for stopping by and sharing, I appreciate it!

Riradu said...

Ricattino G, you are right.
I used the old recipe, which is circulating over the web since the early 90s, many years ago and the resulting mititei had an exotic taste, good indeed but too little resemblance to the mititei back home in Romania.
Sumer savory (Satureja hortensis)is indeed "cimbru", I bought a bag from a grower in Prince Edward Island (Canada), but I also got a bag from Romania. I heard that some people use thyme, but in smaller quantity, because thyme is stronger.
There is a grocery store in New York City which has the real mititei, you can even order from http://parrotcoffee.com/.

Anonymous said...

Ellie, I made mititei last weekend. Thank you for all your work to explain everything. The taste was delicious , but the texture was a little bit too dense. I wonder why? As far as the spices go, I used less than the recipe called for.
BTW, your website is very, very helpful! Thanks a lot. Dani

Ellie said...

Dani, Well, I'm thrilled you ventured to try the mititei:). Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback and kind words! I'm not exactly sure why the texture was dense... Maybe undermixing would be the reason? It could be the lack of fat in the beef? Normally those would be the 2 issues I'd think first. Another reason might be the overcooking of the mittitei... this would make them less juicy and dense. Hope that helps a bit. And thanks again for stopping by, I really appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Ellie, Thank you very much. Now that I think about it, not enough fat might be the reason. I hope I can make them again before the winter comes. I will let you know how they turned out. I see you have another blog. I will check that out also. All the best, Dani.

Ellie said...

Dani, You are most welcome:)! I sure hope they come out better for you next time. Have a blessed day!