Greek Meatballs (Keftedes)
Greek Meatballs or Keftedes are full of the flavours of garlic, oregano and most importantly lots of fresh parsley. Shallow fried or oven baked, they are wonderfully juicy and incredibly moreish! Traditionally served as an appetiser, they can also be easily transformed into a complete meal.
Greek meatballs are often found on menus in Greek restaurants, tavernas and most Greek households. They can also be eaten in a variety of ways. As an appetizer, they go well on a mezze platter with some pita bread, Kalamata olives and tzatziki. To transform the meatballs into a delicious meal, l add a tomato-based sauce and serve with some rice on the side.
The type of mince meat (ground meat) l use is a combination of beef and pork. This combination has lots of flavour and is very juicy. My next preference is veal mince, again for its juiciness. I find that beef on its own can be a little too dry unless combined with pork or veal.
Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 15 – 20 minutes Makes: 30 meatballs
- 500 g / 16 oz mince (ground) meat (Note 1)
- 2 slices of bread (crusts removed) (Note 2)
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp grated onion
- 1/2 tbsp grated garlic
- 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 3/4 cup flour for coating
- light olive oil for shallow frying (Note 3)
- Run the slices of bread (crusts removed) quickly under the cold water tap. You want the water to penetrate and moisten but not totally drench the bread, otherwise your mixture will be too wet. Avoid using bread with grains or seeds.
- Place the meat, egg, bread, grated onion, grated garlic, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well for about 3 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the mixture in the fridge for 45 minutes – 1 hour. This helps the meatballs retain their shape while frying.
- Pinch off small portions of the meat (roughly 25 g / ¾ oz or walnut size) and roll into balls between the palm of your hands.
- Coat lightly with flour. Shake off excess.
- Heat 2 – 3 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a small – medium frypan. Fry in batches of 10 – 15, turning the meatballs until brown on all sides. Each batch will take approximately 7 minutes to brown. (Note 4)
- Serve hot or room temperature with pita bread, Kalamata olives and some Tzatziki.
- I prefer a combination of beef and pork mince or veal (it’s worth that extra dollar or two) as they are more tender and juicier than beef alone.
- Make sure you remove the crusts. You are adding just enough water to moisten the bread. Try to avoid squeezing the bread too firmly as this will make it difficult to incorporate into the mixture. You can substitute the bread slices with 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs. Add more breadcrumbs (a little at a time) if the mixture feels too soft.
- I use a small to medium frypan which means l only need to add 2 -3 tbsp of light olive oil for frying. There should be enough oil to easily cover the base of the pan. Keep turning the meatballs so they become caramalised all over.
- Baking the meatballs is another option. Place them on a well oiled tray and bake in a preheated oven at 200 C / 400 F for 20 minutes. Place the tray a little higher than the middle rack of the oven. Turn them over half way through the cooking time. You will not need to coat in flour if you use the baking method. I have no problem baking my meatballs; the flavour is still there. The only difference is that they may not be as golden in colour.
There are a number of variations for Greek Meatballs but I’ll have to leave those for other posts!!!