This was my first ever attempt at mici, or mititei, and I took the recipe from Pastorel Teodoreanu’s book on food, called ‘De Re Culinaria’. Teodoreanu’s article dates back to the 1960s and therefore the recipe probably varies from other more modern recipes in that it contains only beef. Also, as I don’t have a garden, I had to cook them under the grill. Mici, when properly cooked, take on a slightly rippled look from the barbeque, and of course, the dark lines that all genuinely barbequed meats acquire. However, I think these turned out well for a first attempt. As they started to cook, the house was filled with a smell that truly reminded me of a summer’s day barbeque, and the mici tasted quite authentic. One of the nice things about their being pure beef was that I didn’t have to cook them through. One thing I dislike about mici is that when they are made of pork you have to be more thorough in their cooking and so many time I’ve been to barbeques and been served mici which were charcoal on the outside, and dried and cardboard-y in the middle. These, although maybe a little less familiar in texture, were a little crispy on the outside, but with a nice meaty interior, with just a hint of pinkness to it.
I made a full kilogram of mici, which came to about 20 individual mici, so I was eating them for a couple of days. Many recipes suggest making them a day or two in advance and I must say that the ones I ate today (which had been in the fridge for two days) did seem to taste better than the ones I made right off the bat. It could just be that I was hungrier today, who knows?
Time: 1 hour (plus time for ‘maturing’)
Servings: 20 individual mici
1 kilogram of chuck steak (ceafa de vita)
250g of beef suet (I couldn’t find this so I ended up using slanina – pork fat)*
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
½ teaspoon of ground allspice
Ground black pepper
A large chunk of bread
Some mujdei (crushed garlic, salt, and water)
½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1. Pass the beef through the mincer, then do the same with the suet. Mix them together well with your hands and then pass them through the mincer one more time.
2. Dip a lemon-sized chunk of bread (without crusts) into the mujdei and mix in with the meat.
3. Add all the other ingredients, with about a teaspoon of salt (more or less – Pastorel doesn’t give the exact quantity but I found a teaspoon was ok for my taste) and mix it thoroughly to obtain a paste.
4. Wet a wooden chopping board and your hands and roll out some of the meat paste into a smake of 3cm diameter. Cut 10-12cm lengths and place them on a moist plate. Repeat till all the meat paste is used up. Store them in the fridge for a couple of hours.
5. Cook them on a hot grill, or under a hot grill, or brush them with oil and roast them on a high temperature, or even fry them (although that tends to make them a bit too greasy).
6. Keep them warm in a cover bowl until they are all cooked and then serve with fried potatoes, fresh bread, mustard, and a salad.
*I’ve subsequently read elsewhere that the beef suet is the real ‘secret ingredient’ so I’ll have to make them again one day if I manage to find it. I wish I had been able to find the beef suet (seul de vita). Do any Romanian readers know where to get this in Bucharest?