Let me start this post with a disclaimer: I am not Greek (not even close actually). I’m more of the English, German, and French variety. However, my best friend is very Greek and so I thought it would nice to make something in honor of her heritage. I’ve actually only had Greek food once while I was in London, and it wasn’t the greatest experience of my life. But here at Cookbook Confessions, I am an equal opportunity employer when it comes to most foods (though I’m still in fight with some vegetables), so I won’t let one bad experience ruin my perception of an entire genre of food. I asked her advice about what I should feature, and she gave me this great recipe for Greek meatballs and tzatziki sauce. The recipe is her father's who is an amazing cook, and makes the best gyros...ever! Knowing his good reputation and my love of meatballs, I had a hunch that this was going to be a much better experience than my previous one. OPA!
Keftedakia me Tzatziki
Courtesy of Peter Grillas
2 bread slices, crumbled (or ½ cup bread crumbs)
1 lb. ground beef
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
½ of a large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh mint
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
flour for coating
olive oil for frying
For the Tzatziki:
1 (8 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt (Fage)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tablespoons olive oil
¼ lemon juiced
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
I started this process by making the Tzatziki so the ingredients would have time to sit and meld together while I made the meatballs.
First things first, you want to salt the cucumbers for the tzatziki. Salting the cucumbers and letting them drain for about an hour will eliminate any problems with the tzatziki being too runny. All you need to do is prepare your cucumbers by peeling, seeding, dicing them, and then put them in a colander with some salt and let them drain. Also, draining the yogurt is another good tip to eliminate such runniness.
Once that is done, in a food processor combine the cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic. Process until well combined.
Next, fold the mixture into the yogurt and transfer to a dish. Refrigerate for at least an hour before you serve it.
Now it’s time to get going on the meatballs!
First, prepare you breadcrumbs. If you are using already prepared breadcrumbs then you get to skip this step! Otherwise, I suggest putting your bread in the toaster to get a nice texture on it and then crumble into pieces. Using a food processor works nicely for making breadcrumbs at home.
In a large bowl, place the breadcrumbs, eggs, ground beef, parsley, mint, pepper, sea salt, and olive oil. Mix the ingredients by hand. Form the meat into one-inch balls and coat with flour.
Generously coat the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil. Heat oil to medium. Fry the meatballs, turning all over until crisp and brown.
Once the meatballs are ready, dip them in the Tzatziki and enjoy!
I am so happy I made these meatballs. Not only did making and eating these meatballs make me feel international, but they were so delicious that they make me want to try Greek food all over again. The tzatziki was especially surprising if I do say so myself. I think that salting and draining the cucumbers really helped give this sauce the consistency I was looking for: not too thick but not too thin...it was just right!