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Mici / Mititei Recipe (Romanian Grilled Ground Meat Rolls)

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If the sun is shining and you’re thinking about firing up the grill, why not give our Romanian mici recipe a try for some rich, flavorful rolls of meaty, herby goodness?

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) stacked on a plate.

Mici Recipe (Romanian Grilled Ground Meat Rolls)

There’s a reason so many Romanians claim mici to be the unofficial national dish of Romania, because tens of millions of these “little ones” are eaten every year in the country!

Our recipe is simple, flavorful, and can give you a different option if you want to do some outdoor grilling beyond your conventional sausages and burgers.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) with mustard.

What is Mici?

Mici (also called “mititei”) may mean “little ones” in Romanian due to their size, but there is nothing little about the rich, bold, big flavor these ground meat rolls deliver time after time.

Mici are made from a mixture of ground meat, often a combination of two or more of beef, pork, or lamb, various herbs and spices depending on region or preference, such as thyme, coriander, and/or paprika, and other ingredients like garlic. Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) is also added to the mixture.

Once the mixture is ready, it is either piped through a funnel and cut to size or, less commonly, rolled into small cylinders, before the meat rolls are cooked on a grill.

Mici are hugely popular in Romania and Moldova, and while most commonly eaten during the hotter months on backyard grills, are enjoyed throughout the year at restaurants, bars, and family gatherings.

Variations

Meat – Traditionally, mici were made with a combination of ground beef and lamb, but today it is more common to find them made with ground pork or a combination of beef and pork. All three of these ground meats can be used, and our recipe specifically calls for beef and pork.

Additional Ingredients – There really isn’t one specific way to make mici, and naturally every Romanian and Moldovan family will have their tweaked secret recipe. For example, our recipe calls for garlic, thyme/summer savory, paprika, black pepper, and salt, and you will find the likes of anise, coriander, chopped onion, and/or other herbs and spices, in plenty of other recipes.

Ćevapi – While in no way a variation of mici, ćevapi is worth mentioning because the two dishes are very similar. As with mici, ćevapi too is a dish of hand-mixed ground meat rolls, often containing lamb, pork, and/or beef, and is popular throughout the Balkans.

Arguably the key differences are that, firstly, ćevapi rarely uses herbs and spices in the mixture, often just salt, and secondly, ćevapi is often served in a flatbread with sour cream, chopped onion, and other ingredients. Ćevapi is the national dish of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and found in the likes of Serbia, Croatia, and other Balkan cuisines.

Recipe Ingredients

To make our rich and delicious mici recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients (for about 14 mici):

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) ingredients on a board.
  • Ground Beef – 1 lb (450 grams) ground beef; we used 20% fat ground beef
  • Ground Pork – 1 lb (450 grams) ground pork; we used 12% fat ground pork
  • Beef Stock – 1 cup of beef stock or broth
  • Garlic – 3 medium garlic cloves
  • Thyme (or Summer Savory if available) – 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • Paprika – 1 tbsp paprika
  • Black Pepper – 1 tsp black papper
  • Salt – 1 tsp salt
  • Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda) – 1 tsp baking soda
  • Lemon Juice – 1 tbsp lemon juice

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Add the ground beef, ground pork, minced garlic, thyme, paprika, salt, and black pepper to a large mixing bowl, and mix everything well.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) recipe step-by-step (mixing the meat with the spices).
Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) recipe step-by-step (mixing the meat with the spices).

Step 2 – Slowly start adding the beef stock while kneading the meat mixture. If you have a stand mixer with the dough function, you can use that. If not, kneading by hand will take about 20 minutes.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) recipe step-by-step (adding the beef broth).
Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) recipe step-by-step (kneading the meat mixture).

Step 3 – Keep kneading until you have an almost paste-like consistency.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) recipe step-by-step (kneading the meat mixture).

Step 4 – Combine the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and the lemon juice (the acidic properties of the lemon juice activate the baking soda), and then add them to the meat mixture.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) recipe step-by-step (adding the baking soda and lemon juice).

Step 5 – Knead for one more minute to mix in the baking soda well.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) recipe step-by-step (raw meat mixture).

Step 6 – Cover with plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) recipe step-by-step (raw meat mixture covered with cling film).

Step 7 – After the meat mixture for the mititei has been resting in the fridge for at least 12 hours, shape the mixture into about 14 equal cylinders.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) recipe step-by-step (the raw mici on two plates).

There are multiple methods to do so but the first one is by far our favorite!

Method A (our preferred method as it’s the easiest): Shape the mititei by hand. You’ll want to keep a bowl of water next to you and keep your hands wet while shaping the meat rolls so that the meat mixture doesn’t stick to your hands.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) recipe step-by-step (shaping the mici by hand).

Method B: You can use a piping bag or a homemade piping bag (cutting one corner of a ziplock/plastic bag).

Piping bag.
Homemade piping bag.

Method C: You can cut the bottom of a clean plastic bottle and push the meat through the bottle bore.

shaping the mici through a plastic bottle.

Step 8 – Grill the mititei on a hot grill (on high heat) until fully cooked (for about 7-8 minutes, depending on your grill), turning to make sure they’re grilled all around.

The best way to grill them is on an outdoor grill. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, then a grill pan or a cast iron pan would work.

grilling the mici.
Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) stacked on a plate.

Serving Suggestions

Mustard/Condiments – To keep things traditional, enjoy mici with the heat and earthiness of yellow mustard. However, as with plenty of grilled meats, you could try it with lots of different condiments.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) with mustard.

French Fries – Much loved in Romania, French fries and mici is a simple and very popular pairing.

Pickled Vegetables/Murături – Known as murături, pickled vegetables such as onion, cucumber, and even the likes of sauerkraut are all traditional pairings with mici.

Ćevapi-Style/Flatbread – Naturally not traditional, but if you did have flatbread at home, you could try mici in a flatbread with sour cream, onion, and vegetables, ćevapi-style. Alternatively, some fresh, crusty bread never goes amiss.

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) with mustard and bread.

Whenever I see these delicious meat rolls, I am instantly transported back to my childhood, enjoying barbecues and celebrations in the heat of summer. I hope you try this beloved Romanian dish and it takes your grilled meat game to the next level!

Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) with bread and mustard.

Mici Recipe Card

Mici / Mititei Recipe (Romanian Grilled Meat Rolls)

5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 40 minutes
Author: Nomad Paradise
Course: Mains
Cuisine: Romanian
Servings: 14 meat rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 lb 450 grams ground beef
  • 1 lb 450 grams ground pork
  • 1 cup of beef stock or broth
  • 3 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp thyme or summer savory
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  • Add the ground beef, ground pork, minced garlic, thyme, paprika, salt, and black pepper to a large mixing bowl, and mix everything until the spices are evenly distributed.
  • Slowly start adding the beef stock while kneading the meat mixture. If you have a stand mixer with the dough function, you can use that. If not, kneading by hand will take about 20 minutes.
  • Keep kneading until you have an almost paste-like consistency.
  • Combine the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and the lemon juice (the acidic properties of the lemon juice activate the baking soda), and then add them to the meat mixture.
  • Knead for one more minute to mix in the baking soda well.
  • Cover with plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
  • After the meat mixture for the mititei has been resting in the fridge for at least 12 hours, shape the mixture into about 14 equal cylinders. There are multiple methods to do so but our preferred method is to shape the mititei by hand. You’ll want to keep a bowl of water next to you and keep your hands wet while shaping the meat rolls so that the meat mixture doesn’t stick to your hands.
  • Grill the mititei on a hot grill (on high heat) until fully cooked (for about 7-8 minutes, depending on your grill), turning to make sure they’re grilled all around.

Recipe Notes

1. The best way to grill the mici is on an outdoor grill. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, then a grill pan or a cast iron pan would work.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nomadparadisefood or tag #nomadparadisefood!

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Romanian Meat Rolls (Mici or Mititei) stacked on a plate.

Authors

  • Doina Johnson is a recipe developer and writer. Doina has been cooking for most of her life, and her style draws from many different influences. She cooked with her mother and grandma growing up in Eastern Europe, before adding modern, western influences to her style when living in the United States for about a decade. Then, she traveled full-time for several years, trying food in Europe, Asia, and South America, and bringing those influences into her own cooking. She strives to introduce passionate homecooks to world cuisine, generally by trying the food herself abroad and then recreating it at home and, at times, enlisting the help of local foodies and chefs.

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

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