A staple of any festive gathering of Romanians...
This dish is to Romanians what burgers are to Americans. We are talking about the so-called ‘mici’ or ‘mititei’, skinless sausages grilled to a crisp on high heat, preferably on charcoal. Most likely based on a Turkish recipe, that for kebap, it is now a Balkan staple, being eaten with delight in all countries of the area.
However, the Balkan Christians have included pork in the original mutton-based mix. This is how we make them: mix in equal parts minced beef, mutton and pork, seasoned with black pepper, dried thyme, allspice, one whole head of garlic for each kilogram of meat, which we turn to a paste, and salt to taste. To make the mixture more tender, either add minced fat, or a strong stock made from beef bones. Put in all the finely ground spices and mix well to an even consistency, and at the end add a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice, blending well. It is best left a few hours in the fridge for the flavors to blend.
When you are ready to grill, take out the mixture, and start taking out small handfuls of the mix, as much as you can hold with closed fingers, shaping them like tiny loaves of bread. Leave them a bit for the surface to dry, reducing the mess, since the mixture is quite sticky. It is helpful to rub a bit of cooking oil on your palms when handling them to avoid this problem. The Romanian traditional way of cooking them is on a grill close to a bed of searing hot charcoal, so that the surface is almost burned while the insides are still slightly pink. Grilling them to perfection is an art form, so keep practicing, and definitely enjoy!