Romanian Feast Fit for a Peasant!

I have thoroughly embraced the art of snacking. I admit it.  I think I could spend the rest of my life just grazing all day instead of eating larger meals.  It is more fun, more variety, and more filling.  Don’t get me wrong, I still like eating larger meals, full courses……the works.  But being able to try a little of everything is much more appealing.  That is why the idea of a Romanian peasant platter was so intriguing to me.

A Romanian peasant platter, or “platou țărănesc,” (translated as “rustic platter”) is a collection of foods, mixed meat and vegetables, that can be formed into any combination to form a humble, yet delicious feast. Usually consisting of smoked meats, cheeses, mustard, fresh greens or veggies, and many other options.  I couldn’t really find an exact definition or a description of “traditional” inclusions, which just meant that I had to be creative and also just add whatever I wanted!

I decided to take inspiration from another Romanian tradition called pork feast, or “pomana porcului,” which is a thank you dinner prepared for all those friends and family who helped in the processing of food obtained from the butchering of a pig.  So, with this in mind, I started with bacon and sausage.

I cooked the bacon and then browned the smoked sausage in the bacon grease, since the meat is supposed to be cooked in it’s own fat for a pork feast.

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I also wanted to include artichokes.  I’m not sure if artichokes are traditionally found in Romanian food, but I am now living very close to the artichoke capital of the country so I thought it would be a waste to NOT include them.

I made them the same way I did when I had Greek week, that is to trim the sharp edges off the leaves, stuff a few cloves of garlic into the center, drizzle with a little olive oil, and then wrap them in foil.  I roasted them for a very long time, and unfortunately, I don’t think it was long enough.  The leaves were still very tough and I if I do it again, I think I’ll just stick to good ol’ fashioned steamed artichokes.  It is a foolproof method and they are so delicious.  But, I digress.

I also made meatballs.  These were beef, not pork, but I’m hoping the Romanians won’t mind.  I made them very simply with just some garlic, onions, a little salt and pepper and just a touch of breadcrumbs.  If your meatballs are too dry and aren’t forming properly you can always add a little mustard or ketchup to help bind them.  On the other hand, if they get too sticky, just add more breadcrumbs!

I then hard boiled a few eggs and assembled my platter, making sure to add some feta cheese, smoked cheese, fresh greens, tomatoes, and red onions. I also put out a little dish of horseradish and another of mustard so that we could have dips.

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There may not have been that much cooking involved, but it certainly was delicious and very Romanian.

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Now, in all honesty, I also attempted to make sweet bread, which is a dough stuffed with feta cheese and then fried.  These did not exactly go as planned so I am choosing to exclude pictures.  Let’s just say I got a little lazy and baking is not my strong suit.  The dough wasn’t the right consistency because I ran out of flour and mixed in a different type.  Not one of my better ideas.  It was lumpy and then on top of that, I made them too thick and they were very dense, very doughy and not that tasty (or sweet).  I guess I was worried about the feta poking through the dough?  On the upside, the next morning I warmed them slightly in the toaster oven and ate them like scones with strawberry jam, so it wasn’t a complete waste.

Here’s to a Romanian feast of meat and cheese!  Do we really need anything else?

 

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