KEFTEDAKIA (Greek beef and lamb meatballs, about 72)

 Meatballs, keftedakia (Greek beef and lamb meatballs) 1  

For the meatballs:

4 slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts discarded and bread torn into large pieces (about 2 cups)

½ cup dry red wine

¾ pound ground lamb

½ pound ground chuck

1 onion, chopped fine

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large egg, beaten lightly

½ cup freshly grated kefalotyri cheese or pecorino (about 1-½ ounces)

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, washed well, spun dry and minced

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup dry red wine

¼ cup water

Tzatziki to accompany


  1. Make the meatballs. In a large bowl soak bread in wine until soft.  Add remaining meatball ingredients and salt and pepper to taste and knead with hands until combined well.  Chill meatball mixture, covered, 1 hour.
  1. In a large heavy skillet test meatball mixture for seasoning by sauteing a walnut-size ball in a small amount of oil and season remaining meatball mixture with salt and pepper if necessary. Form remaining meatball mixture into walnut-size balls, transferring them to a large baking sheet.
  1. Preheat oven to 350*.
  1. In skillet heat remaining oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown meatballs in batches, without crowding, shaking skillet gently so that meatballs maintain their shape. Transfer meatballs as browned with a slotted spoon to a roasting pan and between batches loosen brown bits in skillet with spatula to prevent sticking.  Deglaze skillet with wine over high heat, scraping up brown bits, and stir in water.  Pour wine mixture over meatballs.
  1. Bake meatballs in middle of oven, uncovered, until just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve with tzatziki(Meatballs may be made 1 day in advance and cooled completely before chilling, covered.  Reheat meatballs in a preheated 350* oven until heated through.)

adapted from The Best of Gourmet, 1997 

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