Recipe from the New York Times. Link.
*A* told me about last week's dining section from the NYTimes and that it had some good recipes for meatballs. Not having made them ever at home, I thought I would give this a try. I have to say they turned out really well and *A* concurred. The mild spiciness of the meat balls along with the tender juicy meat, combined well with the cool yogurt dip that ended with the slight kick of the added chili. The cool mint helped finish it all off.
Perhaps these are meant as hors d’oeuvre but we had them with Naan bread as our dinner. I think you can combine them with Pita bread too, and maybe make a quick sandwich. The recipe is as found in the NYTimes, the changes I made are in parentheses. Sorry the picture is a bit dull, as I was in a rush and did not use a flash.
While the dish may seem more like a Greek dish, to quote Akthar Nawab the head chef of E.U in the East Village in New York.
“I did some research into an Eastern European recipe, but it evolved into a more Greek recipe, with Moorish and North African influences,” he said.
The cumin-, fennel- and coriander-spiced pork meatballs Mr. Nawab serves are roasted in butter and oil, and served on a skewer, drizzled with two sauces: a sweet-tart slurry of shallot, mint and sherry vinegar, and a yogurt sauce made of thick Greek yogurt emulsified with olive oil and fired up with toasted ground cumin. Mr. Nawab credits their tenderness mostly to his treatment of the protein and the fat.
“I do a really fine grind on the meat, and I use richer pork — 35 percent fat to 65 percent meat. That makes the meatballs a little more succulent, and helps to caramelize them when they go into the fryer.”
Unlike him, the pork I used had a lot less fat, but they turned out really well. The prep time is as mentioned, takes about an hour or so.
Adapted from Akhtar Nawab
Time: 1 hour
FOR YOGURT DRESSING
1 cup high-fat Greek yogurt (I used low fat yogurt, that was the only one we had and it was non Greek too)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (I also tossed in chili powder for some extra spicyness)
FOR MINT DRESSING
1/2 cup finely sliced mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crustless country bread, torn into pieces
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons olive oil
Half a large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes (I added some extra red pepper flakes)
2 1/2 pounds ground pork, chilled
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
4 tablespoons butter. (I left the butter out)
1. For yogurt dressing, combine yogurt, cumin, and sugar. Slowly whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate.
2. For mint dressing, combine mint, shallot and vinegar in small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and refrigerate.
3. For meatballs, combine bread and milk in a bowl, and stir until bread has absorbed milk.
4. Combine 1 tablespoon of oil and onion in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sizzling, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook until onion is softened but not colored. Transfer to food processor, add bread mixture and purée.
5. Combine coriander, cumin, fennel and hot red-pepper flakes in small skillet over medium heat and stir until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and grind to a powder in a spice grinder.
6. Mix meat, the bread mixture, spices and salt in a large stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add parsley and oregano, and mix again. With wet hands, roll into 1-inch balls.
7. Place large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter has melted, reduce heat slightly and begin adding meatballs, allowing them to brown on the bottom, then turning gently to continue browning on all sides. Work in batches, transferring meatballs to a platter when they are cooked. To serve, drizzle with yogurt dressing and sprinkle with mint dressing.
Yield: 50 1-inch meatballs (serves about 12 as an hors d’oeuvre).