Mlinci are one of Croatia’s best comfort foods. They are our authentic pasta, and we know how sumptuous anything pasta-like can be.
To describe mlinci to someone who’s never had them, we compare them to flatbread. So we call them thin dried flatbread because this is the first phase in the cooking process.
However, mlinci are also known as baked noodles. And this is because they can be cooked on a hot plate or baked in the oven.
Mlinci are traditional Croatian pasta becasue they make a classic Sunday (or other festive) meal. They accompany roasted meat, usually a bird - turkey, chicken, duck or goose.
How to make and eat mlinci
As with most traditional Croatian food, there will be variations in the recipe. Actually, there will be 2 factions. One for the egg and the other against the egg in the ingredients. I belong to the latter.
I believe mlinci should be made with only 3 ingredients: flour, salt and water. Their exquisite taste and texture should come from the way they are cooked and from the roasting juices they are served with.
The other peculiar thing about mlinci is the multi-step process it takes to make them.
First they cook on a hot plate, which is the most traditional way. You can do this step in a heavy skillet or baked in the oven.
Then they are dried. In this stage, mlinci can be stored in a paper bag for up to 3 months.
When they are cooked, we crunch them up in smaller pieces and scald them with boiling hot water for a few minutes. So, in a way, they don’t even cook, they just rehydrate.
Finally, they we coat with meat drippings. In this stage you can also fry mlinci for a few minutes. See the recipe below.
It sounds like a complicated affair, but it’s not. You only need to master the dough. And that means several things:
Cook mlinci until they are slightly charred to get those nutty flavours
Don’t leave them too long in the boiling water, they need to be al dente.
Don’t pour too much grease on them. They need just a bit of fat and a lot of flavour from the roasting juices.
Let’s see the recipe and all the tips and tricks how to achieve that. Also, watch the video to see how mlinci cook on a hot plate in the traditional way.
Traditional Mlinci Recipe
Croatian mlinci pasta
- 500 g all-purpose flour (4 cups)
- 270 ml warm water (1 cup + 1 tbsp)
- 1 tsp salt
- Whisk salt into the flour, make a well in the middle and pour in the water. Start combining the dough with a fork. Use your hands to bring everything together in a ball.
- Knead the dough for 6-7 minutes. Do it by turning it gradually clockwise. With every turn, fold the upper side of the dough and push it into the dough ball. Do it gently and until you can feel the dough has become smoother and silkier.
- Divide the dough into about 6 smaller pieces (depends how large your pan or hot plate is). Dust each with flour, cover with a cloth and leave them to rest for 1 hour.
- Heat the hot plate (or a cast iron pan, or a heavy skillet) to high. Roll out each piece of dough to 1 mm thinness. Use flour generously as you flip from one side to the other.
- Place on a hot plate and cook for about 3 min on each side. You will know when to turn because the dough will inflate and get bubbles. Use a knife to prick these bubbles. There will also be some charring, which is good, this is the original look of mlinci. Turn to the other side and cook for 2-3 more min.
- You can also bake mlinci in the oven at 200 C/400 F, 3-4 minutes on each side. Place them on the reverse side of a baking tray and don't use any baking paper.
- Leave mlinci out to dry. Store them in a paper bag for later.
- When you want to use them, crunch them up into smaller pieces. Place them in a bowl and pour boiling hot water over them. Let them soak for 2-3 minutes. Drain.
- After you have roasted a turkey or a chicken, try to separate the basting juices from the fat. The fat will rise to the top. Use 1 tbsp of fat to coat the drained mlinci. Fry them quickly in a pan. Then pour basting juices over them. (If you don’t separate fat from the juice, mlinci will turn out too greasy).
- Serve warm with roast poultry.
Now when you have your traditional savory course sorted, it's time to bake some desserts. Am I right? You can find 50 most authentic sweets in my Croatian Desserts cookbook.
It comes with detailed step-by-step recipes and plenty of images to guide you through. I am sure you'll find all your childhood favorites in there!
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