Recipe: Soutzoukakia (Greek Meatballs)

Soutzoukakia, or Greek Meatballs, is a family favorite in Greek households around the world. It's a hearty meal for those days where the chill doesn't leave once you enter your home. This recipe is perfect for a Sunday night family dinner - and will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters!

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INGREDIENTS (serves 6)

For the meat patties: 

2  slices good quality Italian bread (about 2” thick), crusts removed (or plain breadcrumbs)

⅓  cup dry red wine

1½  lb.  lean ground beef

½  med.  onion, finely chopped

4  med. garlic cloves, minced

⅓  cup  fresh parsley, finely chopped

2  tsp. ground cumin

1  TBSP. good quality red wine vinegar

4 TBSP. Kosterina extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. salt 

½  tsp. freshly ground pepper

3 TBSP. water (or as needed, to achieve a soft mixture)

flour for rolling the meat patties

Kosterina extra virgin olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

¼  cup Kosterina extra-virgin olive oil

4 med. garlic cloves, minced

1  tsp. AP flour

2½  cups  good quality crushed canned tomatoes

½  cup dry red wine (optional)

½ tsp. cinnamon 

½  tsp.  sugar

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.  In a small-size bowl, soak bread (or breadcrumbs) in red wine and set it aside until ready to use.

2.  In a medium-size bowl, combine ground beef, onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, vinegar and Kosterina extra virgin olive oil. Add the wine-soaked bread (discarding any excess wine), season with salt and pepper, and mix well until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Add a little water, as needed, if the mixture is too tight. The mixture should feel soft at this point. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for an hour to firm up.

3. Remove from the refrigerator an with moistened hands, pinch off about 1 heaping tablespoon at a time and shape into oblong patties about 2 inches long. Carefully place them in a dish until you are ready to cook them. 

4.  When ready to cook them, roll the meat patties lightly in a bowl with flour. Heat the Kosterina olive oil in a large heavy skillet, shake off excess flour from the patties and brown them lightly, turning on all sides to cook evenly. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

5.  To prepare sauce: Discard the oil in the pot and wipe clean with paper towels. Heat the Kosterina extra virgin olive oil and add the minced garlic. Lightly sauté the garlic and then add the flour. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until flour browns very lightly. Add the tomatoes, wine, sugar, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and then add the meat patties to sauce. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat is tender and sauce thick, about 30-40 minutes. Add a bit of water during cooking to keep the sauce from reducing too much. 

6. Serve this delicious Sunday meal over rice pilaf or mashed potatoes.

Marilena LeavittComment