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Romanian Garlicky Ground Meat Sausages
(Carnatzlach)
with Sour Pickle Vinaigrette and Roasted Red Peppers

Yield: 4 to 5 Servings

 

I love pickles, though they never live up to their smell: a siren song of heady garlic, spicy peppercorns, and other enticing aromatics. Crunchy and cold, they provide refreshing respite from the dryness and density of unsauced meats, especially in sandwiches and simple grills.

Eating carnatzlach, I grew tired of alternating one bite of barbequed meat with a juicy chew of pickle, so I turned the pickle into this sauce.

This garlicky Romanian grill is wonderful anytime, but it is particularly appealing for casual Indian summer meals during the holiday. If you're cutting down on beef, well-seasoned turkey is a good substitute here.

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • About 1 teaspoon salt (more if using ground turkey)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; or fresh,
         hot but not searing, chile (preferably Fresno or serrano,
         but Hungarian wax, jalapeno, or other varieties will do fine),
         roasted (see Cook's Note), peeled and finely chopped
         (be sure to use rubber gloves when preparing)
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef (you can substitute ground
         turkey-the ground thigh meat will work best-with fineresults,
         but you may want to increase the seasoning slightly)
  • Oil for greasing the broiler rack or pan, if needed

Accompaniments:

2 large red bell peppers, roasted (see Cook's Note), cut into strips, and seasoned well with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and a little vinegar or lemon juice to taste; chopped scallions (both white and green parts); Sour Pickle Vinaigrette (recipe follows); half-sour or garlic dill pickles, sliced lengthwise; garlic dill tomatoes

In a food processor combine the garlic, paprika, salt, oregano or marjoram, allspice, black pepper or chile, and 14 cup water and pulse until the garlic is chopped very fine. Add a third of the meat and process until thoroughly incorporated with the seasoning. Add another third of the meat and pulse a few times. Add the final third and continue pulsing, stopping to scrape down the bowl, if necessary, until the mixture is well combined, very soft, and almost pasty.

Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overn1g~t so that all the vibrant flavors will meld together.

When ready to cook the carnatzlach, set out a small bowl of cold water and a large platter. Moisten your hands with the water, take a small lump of the meat mixture, and roll it into a sausage 3- to 4-inches long and i-inch wide (about the size of your middle finger, but a little wider). Place the shaped carnatzl on the platter and continue making more, wetting your hands as necessary, until all the meat is rolled. You'll have approximately 14 to 17 sausages.

Preheat the broiler, outdoor grill, or (my choice) a heavy ridged cast-iron skillet on top of the stove, to high temperature. (Spray rack or pan lightly with oil first, if not nonstick.) Grill or broil the sausages until beautifully browned, crusty, and cooked to desired doneness, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

To serve, arrange some roasted red pepper strips and chopped scallions on a plate. Nestle a few carnatzlach attractively over them, and spoon a generous amount of sour pickle vinaigrette over everything. Garnish with pickles and garlic dill tomatoes.

Cook's Note: To roast peppers, spear them with a long-handled fork, and roast like marshmallows over an open flame (a gas burner or outdoor fire). Or place the peppers on a roasting rack set directly over the flame. Keep turning the peppers until the skins are lightly charred on all sides. You can also roast them under the broiler. Place the peppers on a foil-lined rack under a preheated broiler, as close as possible to the heat source. Turn the peppers as the skins blister and blacken.

Put charred peppers in a paper bag and twist the bag closed, or put them in a covered bowl. Let them steam until cool enough to handle-this will make them easier to peel. Rub the skins off with your fingers (if preparing chiles, make sure you are wearing rubber gloves). Don't worry if you don't remove every piece of charred skin-a few bits here and there will add smoky flavor. Although this is messy and the peel will stick to your fingers, I don't recommend peeling the peppers underwater, as some suggest, because it washes away the flavorful oils, making the peppers soggy and flat-tasting. Instead, dip your hands into a bowl of water every so often or wipe them on a paper towel to clean them. Pull out and discard the stem, seeds, and ribs. The peppers are ready to be used in a recipe.

 

Sour Pickle Vinaigrette

Yield: 4 to 5 Servings

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped half-sour or garlic-dill pickles
  • 2 tablespoons liquid from pickle jar
         (include peppercorns and other flavorings, if desired)
  • 3 tablespoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice

Place the pickles and pickle liquid in a blender and process at high speed until pureed. With the machine on, slowly add the oil. Continue processing another minute or two, until the mixture is smooth and emulsified. Transfer to a bowl, and add salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. You can serve the sauce right away, but it's best to allow the flavors to mellow for a while in the refrigerator. Stir the vinaigrette before serving.

"With several helpers, she brought platters of cold sweet-and-sour fish, stewed meat. and roasted chicken, flasks of lemonade, baskets filled with rolls and hard white pretzels, bowls of sauerkraut sprinkled with sugar, and plates filled with freshly pickled cucumbers as cold as ice." —Chain Grade, "The Rebbetzin"

 
  • from:
  • Jewish Holiday Cooking:
    A Food Lover's Treasury of Classics and Improvisations
  • by Jayne Cohen
  • Wiley Hardvocer, 2008
  • $32.50, 574 pages
  • ISBN-10: 047176387X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-471-76387-1
  • Reprinted by permission.

Buy Jewish Holiday Cooking

 

Jewish Holiday Cooking:
A Food Lover's Treasury of Classics and Improvisations

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