Below is my Dad’s recipe for lean Greek meatballs. I’m vegan so don’t eat these but my children do.
500g minced lean lamb or beef.
2 medium slices of white bread-crusts removed. (Soak the bread in water and squeeze the slices until almost dry)
1 onion, peeled and grated
1 potato, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 medium egg, organic or free range-beaten
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly flat leaf parsley-finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint-finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried mint
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
50g plain flour
3-4 tablespoons sunflower oil
For the Sauce:
1 medium onion peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
500g fresh tomatoes, skinned and deseeded and finely chopped or 1x400g tin plum tomatoes or 2xtablespoons tomato puree dissolved in 300ml water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
125ml dry white wine.
1 cinnamon stick, about 3cm long
1 bay leaf
Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Put the minced lamb, the breadcrumbs, onion, potato, lemon juice, beaten egg, cinnamon, olive oil and the herbs in a large bowl. Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Knead well and place in the fridge for at least half an hour to allow the flavours to amalgamate.
In the meantime, you can make the sauce. In a large saucepan over a medium heat, fry the onion in the olive oil for 4-5 minutes or until light brown. Add the tomatoes or tomato puree dissolved in water, the cinnamon stick, the bay leaf, sugar, wine and seasoning. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
With damp hands, shape the meat mixture into walnut-size balls of about 2cm in diameter and roll them in the flour to lightly coat them, shaking off any excess flour.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. When it is hot, fry the keftedes on a medium heat, for about 4 minutes on each side, turning once, until they are cooked through and are crisp and golden brown.
Lift out of the pan and drain on the kitchen paper to get rid of the excess oil. Place the hot meatballs on plates with the hot tomato sauce poured over. Sprinkle parsley on top and serve with pasta, fried chipped potatoes, mashed potatoes or just a crisp salad.
Recipe © George Psarias.