Mici: Romania’s Irresistible Barbecue Delicacy That Packs a Flavorful Punch
The smell of grilled meat wafts through the air as the long, slender shapes sizzle on the hot coals. Bite into one and an explosion of flavor hits you – garlicky, spicy and smoky all at once. This is not your average sausage – it’s mici, Romania’s national barbecue delicacy. Mici are small, skinless sausages made of a mixture of beef, lamb and pork and seasoned boldly with garlic, black pepper and thyme. They are grilled and served with mustard, bread to soak up the flavorful juices and an ice-cold beer to wash it all down. Once you have tasted your first mici, you will understand why Romanians are so passionate about this flavorful part of their culture and identity. Mici are Romania on a stick – bold, complex and irresistible. No trip to Romania is complete without savoring this delicious dish.
The Art of Preparing Mici: The Importance of Selecting and Preparing the Right Meat
Romanian mici might seem a mystery to other people when it comes to preparing them from scratch. To ensure the tastiest mici, make sure you use the freshest and finest meat available before starting the mincing process. I strongly advise you to avoid pre-ground meat, which typically consists of scraps and is usually not very tasty. Choosing the right type of meat will definitely play a huge role in the taste of your mici. Using a pork chop to make mici is not ideal because they will turn out dry and dense.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Ground Beef – 1 kilogram and a half or 3.3 pounds
- Minced Pork Meat – 1 kilogram and a half or 3.3 pounds
- Stock Beef – 750 milliliters or 25 fluid ounces
- Sodium Bicarbonate (or Baking Soda) – 3 teaspoons (1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate per kilogram of meat used)
- Grounded Pepper – 1 tablespoon
- Smashed Garlic – 5 cloves
- Dried Thyme (Fresh if available) – 2 tablespoons
- Salt – 1 tablespoon (Be careful with the salt since the beef stock already contains salt)
- Spicy Paprika – 1 tablespoon
- Optional Spices – Allspice and spicy pepper flakes if you like the flavor
How to Make Romanian Mici
Now let’s dive into a step-by-step guide on how to make Romanian Mici. This guide is your passport to a flavorful journey, hands-on exploration of the bold, complex, and irresistible world of Mici.
1. Blending the Ingredients
Blend the stock beef, minced pork meat, and condiments together to form a well-tied paste. Use a kitchen robot with kneading option or hand-mixing.
2. Incorporating the Stock Beef and Spices
Gradually add the stock beef, mixing it little by little until all the liquid is incorporated. Add spices in 2 or 3 batches to ensure even distribution. Once the paste has thickened slightly, add the baking soda and mix again.
3. Kneading the Meat Paste
Knead the meat paste for at least 30 minutes if doing it manually. If using an automatic kneader, 15 minutes should suffice to combine the paste properly, similar to kneading dough.
4. Resting the Paste
Let the paste rest in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
5. Second Day Kneading
On the second day, knead the paste again to make it easier to handle and shape the mici.
6. Shaping the Mici
Use a mincing machine with a sausage accessory for the easiest shaping. Alternatively, use a zip lock bag, pastry bag, or a half cut pet bottle. Make ten 20 cm long “trees” of paste next to each other.
Then cut them in half with a knife to obtain twenty 10 cm long mici.
7. Cooking the Mici
The best way to cook Romanian mici is on a barbecue.
Grill or fry them if needed, but barbecuing is recommended for the best results.
8. Preparing the Barbecue Grid
To avoid sticking, grease the barbecue’s grid with a piece of bacon, before laying the mici.
9. Handling Sticky Mici Paste
If the mici paste becomes sticky, wet your hands with water to reshape them.
10. Monitoring Cooking Time
Cooking time varies, but each side of the mici takes 3-5 minutes depending on the grill power.
11. Serving the Mici
Roast the mici well on all sides and serve them hot from the barbecue’s grid. Enjoy them with plenty of mustard and a cold beer or a cola.
Frequently Asked Questions
Romanian mici also known as “mititei” are a traditional Romanian dish. Shape-maintaining, skinless oblong sausages with a one-of-a-kind seasoning. Traditionally a 1:1 blend of fat-minced pork meat and ground beef, they bring delightful sensory experiences in various flavors. (lamb+beef, lamb+pork, lamb+beef+pork)
In Romanian, pronounce them as “mee-chee”.
The main ingredients used in Romanian Mici include ground beef, ground pork, lots of garlic, stock beef concentrate, and a delicious mix of herbs and spices (such as thyme, coriander, paprika) and baking soda.
Romanian Mici are distinct in both their preparation and seasoning. They are typically shaped into elongated rolls and cooked directly on the barbecue’s grid, giving them a unique texture and smokey flavor.
Traditionally, mici are barbecued, but they can also be cooked by pan-frying, oven-baking, or gas grill-roasting. However, barbecuing adds an authentic smoky flavor, enhancing their taste for a true Romanian mic experience.
The best way to cook Romanian Mici is on a smokey barbecue. The flavor and smoke from the wood and the coals will give an authenticity you cannot reproduce in any other way. Cook the mici on a medium-high flame for around 10 or 15 minutes, turning them occasionally until they are even browned and cooked through. The time may vary depending on how strong of a flame you have. A too-strong flame will burn the mici on the outside leaving them uncooked in the middle.
Cooking times can vary depending on the thickness of the Mici and the heat of the grill or whatever cooking method you choose. Generally, they take around 10 minutes to cook thoroughly on medium-high heat.
Depends on what this process of marinating is for you individually. Usually, minced meats do not require a marinating time.
For homemade mici, refrigerate the flavorful paste for 12 hours, allowing the flavors to meld perfectly.
You can try experimenting with marinating the meat before mincing it to add extra flavor. However, the authentic flavor of Mici comes from the specific combination of minced meat, condiment mix, and stock beef.
Typically, serve Romanian Mici as a main course with a side of mustard and fresh bread. You can substitute mustard with a variety of pickles or a fresh salad. Additionally, you can also add french fries or other barbecued vegetables such as mushrooms or potatoes.
Traditional Romanian Mici are not typically spicy. However, the seasonings can vary to suit anyone’s taste. Personalized recipes may include a touch of heat with the addition of chili flakes or peppers.
The History of Romanian Mici
The history of Romanian mici it’s a bit uncertain.
While some people claim the Ottoman Empire invented them in the late 14th century, others swear they resulted from a delicious accident in the early 19th century. A local butcher mixed beef, pork, allspice, and paprika to create them.
We can’t verify the story, but Romanian mici is a popular dish.
On May 1st, Romanians celebrate “mititei day” by barbecuing the beloved dish all over the country. It can’t be the first of May without mititei.
Mici are a Romanian staple, served at spring/summer barbecues and in local pubs/restaurants.
Even for experienced cooks, preparing mici is truly an art, an art that requires attention to every single little detail, from selecting the right type of meat to adjusting the correct dosage of herbs and spices, otherwise you might end up with parjoale (another Romanian dish, typically deep fried).
The Best Romanian Mici
The best mici result from a combination of two meat types: ground beef with minced pork meat or ground beef with minced mutton.
Some recipes incorporate even three types of meat (beef, pork, mutton), but those are, let’s say, special recipes, customized on preferences.
To achieve perfect taste and texture, strictly maintain the ratios for tasty and juicy mici. Their texture can be easily compromised if not carefully prepared.
Instead of a nice, well tied mic, you’ll end up with a hot mess that will unravel right there on the barbecue’s grid.
You just have to keep one thing in mind: for every kilogram of pork meat used, for example, you add the same amount of beef.
- 1 kilogram and a half or 3.3 pounds of ground beef
- 1 kilogram and a half or 3.3 pounds of minced pork meat
- 750 milliliters or 25 fluid ounces of stock beef
- 3 teaspoons of sodium bicarbonate or baking soda (1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate per kilogram of meat used)
- 1 tablespoon of grounded pepper
- 5 cloves of smashed garlic
- 2 tablespoons of dried thyme, if u have fresh even better
- 1 tablespoon of salt, be careful with the salt since the beef stock already contains salt
- 1 tablespoon of spicy paprika
- optional you could add allspice if you like the flavor and spicy pepper flakes
- Blend the stock beef, minced pork meat, and condiments together to form a well-tied paste. Use a kitchen robot with kneading option or hand-mixing.
- Gradually add the stock beef, mixing it little by little until all the liquid is incorporated. Add spices in 2 or 3 batches to ensure even distribution. Once the paste has thickened slightly, add the baking soda and mix again.
- Knead the meat paste for at least 30 minutes if doing it manually. If using an automatic kneader, 15 minutes should suffice to combine the paste properly, similar to kneading dough.
- Let the paste rest in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
- On the second day, knead the paste again to make it easier to handle and shape the mici.
- Shaping: Use a mincing machine with a sausage accessory for the easiest shaping. Alternatively, use a zip lock bag, pastry bag, or a half cut pet bottle. Make ten 20 cm long “trees” of paste next to each other. Then cut them in half with a knife to obtain twenty 10 cm long mici.
- Cooking: The best way to cook Romanian mici is on a barbecue. Grill or fry them if needed, but barbecuing is recommended for the best results.
- To avoid sticking, grease the barbecue’s grid with a piece of bacon, before laying the mici.
- Tip: If the mici paste becomes sticky, wet your hands with water to reshape them.
- Cooking time varies, but each side of the mici takes 3-5 minutes depending on the grill power.
- Roast the mici well on all sides and serve them hot from the barbecue’s grid. Enjoy them with plenty of mustard and a cold beer or a cola.
- for the pork-beef combination, I suggest you opt for pork belly meat or the chest area that has a higher fat content, while for beef, the leg portion is preferable to bring some texture to the mixture
- using a pork chop to make mici is not ideal because they will turn out dry and dense
- for tasty and juicy mici, the ratios must be strictly kept to achieve the perfect taste
- when you are done kneading, the mici paste should be very well tied and sticky, the stickiness is very important
- the secret to making the tastiest mici lies in cooking them on rapid-fire on a charcoal barbeque
- when grilling them you must pay attention and turn them as needed on the uncooked sides
- in case you don't have the possibility to light up a charcoal barbeque, you can fry them in a pan, use an electric grill or a gas grill; some might use the oven to bake them but that's the least recommended option
- you can say they are perfectly cooked when they have an elastic feel when you bump them with a fork or anything at hand
Nutrition Information:Yield: 60 Serving Size: 65g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 170Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 450mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 17.5g
The nutritional information provided is approximate and for reference purposes only. Actual values may vary due to factors such as product brands, preparation methods, and ingredient substitutions. The provided values may not include all nutrients and should not be relied upon as the sole source of nutritional information. Always read product labels and consider individual factors when making dietary choices. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies or adverse effects resulting from the use of this information.