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The Food Maven Diary



I have been dying to try my hand at Karnatzlach for ages. They are the bullet-shaped and garlicky "sausage" – actually more closely related to Middle Eastern kefta kebab than to sausage – that are made in Romania, or at least at Sammy's Romanian Restaurant on Manhattan's Lower East Side. But Steven Raichlen got to Karnatzlach first. The recipe he weedled out of Stanley Zimmerman, the owner of Sammy's, is in Steve's new book BBQ USA (Workman Publishing, $19.95).

Besides a strong garlic presence, Karnatzlack (or Karnatzlach) have a slightly funky, "high" taste, here created by the action of seltzer and baking soda. (I have to find out what that chemical reaction is all about.) I made my meat mixture one day and refrigerated it until I cooked it the next day. Steve Raichlin's two-hour ripening should be considered a bare minimum.

These are excellent on the barbecue grill, as Raichlin gives directions. I cooked mine indoors, on the rack next to the highest and closest to my oven broiler.

(Romanian Grilled Garlic Sausage Patties)

Serves 8 as an appetizer, 4 to 6 as a main course

1 pound stew beef, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 pound veal, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup club soda
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Black bread (optional)
Deli mustard (optional)

Put the meat twice through a meat grinder or use the metal blade of a food processor to chop in short pulses (see Note).

Place the club soda and the baking soda in a mixing bowl and stir in the garlic, salt, cumin, paprika, pepper, and parsley. Add the ground meat and stir with a wooden spoon until mixed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the sausages rest for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator. This "ripens" the sausage. If you're in a hurry, you can skip this step.

Wet your hands with cold water and form the meat mixture into elongated patties shaped rather like cigars. Each patty should be about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. You'll have about 20 patties. Place the patties on a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and refrigerate, covered, while you set up the grill.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the sausages on the hot grate and grill until sizzling, brown, and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side, 6 to 10 minutes in all). Serve at once. Black bread and deli mustard make nice accompaniments.

Note: For best results, chop the meat in a meat grinder- or have your butcher do it for you. If you must use a food processor, don't fill the processor bowl more than a quarter full and grind the meat in short pulses. Be careful not to overprocess it.

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