Mititei (deriving from 2 Romanian words meaning “small things”) is a traditional Romanian dish of grilled ground meat rolls made from beef (sometimes mixed with lamb and pork) and spices such as garlic (The Romanian province of Transylvania is the original home of the Vampyr, after all!), black pepper, thyme, coriander, anise, savory and sometimes a touch of paprika. Sodium bicarbonate and broth or water are also added to the mixture to enhance the texture. Think of them as a sausage without a casing and you’re basically correct.
Since Romania was under Turkish rule for many years as a part of the Ottoman Empire, their use of a multitude of spices reflects a strong Turkish and Asian influence – it also means that Romanian recipes are an intriguing harmony of Western and Eastern influences.
The journalist Constantin Bacalbașa wrote in his book Dictatura gastronomică that mititei were invented one night at an inn called Iordache on Covaci’s street in the old Bucharest, held by a Transylvanian named Ionescu Iordache, who was famous for his sausages. One evening while he was missing sausage casings, he laid the rolls of meat directly onto the grill. Nowadays, they are sold both freshly grilled in restaurants and pre-made (raw but unfrozen) in grocery stores.
My version of mititei are made only from beef and my own special blend of spices, but are otherwise true to the original Romanian recipe. They are certainly best cooked on a charcoal grill, but are nearly as celestial cooked in your kitchen – go with what feels right, just have a cold beer at the ready to accompany these bad boys!
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do, Citizens! 🙂
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