My husband is Greek; therefore, I am now Greek by association! The ultimate test for a woman who is married to a Greek is how well she cooks (the Greeks love to eat and they certainly eat well!). The meatball, once mastered, is appreciated by young and old alike. There are countless recipes out there, but I must tell you, after years of desperately attempting one recipe after another, I finally was able to watch a Greek friend’s mother make her version last summer. I must admit, I will never have to look for another recipe again. These guys are addictive! You could make a large batch and freeze whatever portion you don’t intend to cook that day, but in my house, they go so quickly that I don’t ever have any extra meat mix to freeze. There are also many versions of dishes you can incorporate the meatballs into, which I will explain below. But if you are like me, you might just want to eat them right out of the pan.
(Yield: 25 meatballs)
- 1 lb. ground organic, grass-fed beef (you could substitute a ¼ lb. of ground pork if you prefer)
- 1 small onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 large organic egg
- 5-6 lg. spoonfuls bread crumbs
- 6-7 lg. spoonfuls olive oil
- 1 lg. spoonful red wine or sherry vinegar
- 2-3 cherry tomatoes
- 1 large bunch of parsely
- 1 small bunch of mint
- 1/2-3/4 lg. spoonful salt (to your liking)
- 1 sm. spoonful dried oregano
- ½ sm. spoonful ground cumin (add more or less to your liking)
- Ground pepper to taste
- ¾ c. flour (for dredging)
- 2 c. (about) olive oil for frying
*By large spoonful, I mean the largest spoon in your home cutlery set, and a small spoon being the dessert spoon.
Store bought breadcrumbs work just as well in this recipe, but if you have some stale bread (about ½ a baguette) break into chunks and process in food processor until fine crumbs form. Measure out 5-6 lg. spoonfuls and store any extra breadcrumbs in a sealed container.
In a food processor, add the onion and garlic, tomatoes, and herbs, and process until coarsely chopped. In a large bowl, add the meat, egg, processed onion mixture, bread crumbs, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. Begin adding large spoonfuls of oil. However, do not add the oil all at once. Continue adding spoonfuls of oil while you mix the ingredients by hand. The mixture should feel soft and very easy to mold once you have finished mixing it with your hands.The key to making meatballs is how well you mix all the ingredients together. So get your hands messy and have some fun!
Break off large cookie dough size portions of the meat mixture and roll into balls. Slightly flatten the meatballs to make a shape in between a ball and a disk. Dredge with flour and shake off any excess. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed frying pan, heat your oil. When you flick a few drops of water into the oil with your fingers and is bubbles, the oil is ready. Carefully add the meatballs (about 8 at a time) into the pan. Allow to cook for approximately 2 minutes on each side. With a slotted spoon, transfer cooked meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate.
If you can bear to wait the 5 minutes it takes to allow the meatballs to cool, then you won’t burn your tongue. Otherwise, best of luck!
Traditionally, the Greeks always serve meatballs with French fries. I usually peel 5 potatoes and hand cut them into thin pieces. Then fry them in a pan on the stove with some olive oil until nicely crisped. Alternatively, you could always bake some seasoned potato wedges in the oven at 350° F for about 45 minutes.
Alternate Meatball Dishes:
Make a simple red sauce (onion, garlic, can tomato, bay leaf, etc). Meanwhile, on very low heat, add some olive oil and halved, de-seeded green peppers. Cover, and allow to cook very slowly until peppers are soft. Add cooked peppers and cooked meatballs to sauce. Cook until flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Serve with some good crusty bread, or with pasta.