I am shocked, shocked I tell you! that my children actually enjoyed this recipe. I’m not sure why, perhaps they have given up all hope of enjoying a decent meal from my kitchen and now sullenly submit to my demands that they eat the goddamn food that I paid for and worked hard to put in front of them and it’s not like you do any chores around… Ahem. I got a little off track here.
Whatever the reason, they ate this one on my first attempt.
These are basically middle-eastern meatballs. You can cut in other things with the meat, serve them in a variety of ways, whatever floats your boat. (I rather enjoyed wrapping them in some naan with rice.) It’s a meatball. It’s the spices that make it.
The oven instructions are below. We haven’t grilled them yet, but they should do great, just use a little grill-sense. It’s a reasonably easy and fast recipe, ~20 minutes to prep and ~20 minutes to cook.
The recipe plus rice and other sides makes enough for 6-8 people.
2 pounds of ground beef – don’t get a lean mix! 80-85% seems good
mix in other ground meats as your fancy takes you, but you need some fats – don’t go too lean
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, or 1/4 cup dried
1/2 small onion, diced fine
1 red bell pepper, diced fine
Garlic, 3-4 minced cloves
Paprika, 1 tsp
Salt, 1 tsp
Cumin, 1/2 tsp
Pepper, 1/2 tsp
If you plan on skewering the meat, and you’re using bamboo or wood skewers, soak them in water for ~30 mins.
Preheat oven too 350°
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl (don’t overmix)
Form the mix into oblong patties, about kielbasa-thick
If you’re skewering, shove in the skewers now or form the patties around the skewers
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or grill for ~20 minutes, flipping at least once
For the last couple of minutes turn on the broiler to brown the meat
Usual disclaimer with ground meat dishes: make sure the internal temp is at least 160° before serving.
Serve with some traditional middle-eastern sides, like:
1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, certified D.O.P. if possible
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
7 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large fresh basil sprig, or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, more to taste
Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and crush them with your hands
Afterwards, fill the can about 1/4 to 3/4 way with water; slosh around to capture the tomato juices and bits, and set aside for a moment.
Use more water if you want a lot of sauce, or are finishing meatballs, or want it to simmer for a long time. Use less water if you don’t have much time
Slice the garlic cloves as fine as you can
Put the pan on medium heat and add the olive oil
When the olive oil starts to shimmer, toss in the garlic and let it sizzle
BEFORE the garlic starts to brown, pour in the tomatoes, followed by the water from the can, and sprinkle on the oregano and pepper flakes. If you’re using fresh basil, lay it on top.
Turn down the heat and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. It will get a nice orange-y color to the top. You can reduce it until there’s no visible water, but no more than that – remove it from the heat if you reach that point!
This recipe is great because it’s tasty and doesn’t take a lot of extra work, but it does take time. Expect prep plus cooking to be an hour.
You really want to use a heavy stainless pan, 12″ or larger.
Our local grocery store carries canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, and they are certified D.O.P., but they already have basil added (so we don’t actually put additional basil in).
I’ve tried using canned crushed tomatoes but it messes with the texture and flavor. Crushing them yourself is easy yet so satisfying.
Our best experience was making meatballs at the same time, and finishing them off in the sauce. The sauce picked up some extra flavors that made it sublime.
This is a great side for pretty much any meat dish, especially on a cool fall day. The smaller, skin-on potatoes are tasty and not nearly as bad for you as a full-size, peeled and boiled starch-bomb white potato.
3 pounds of small red, white, and/or purple potatoes
Lots of supermarkets carry 2- and 3-pound bags of mixed, pre-washed small potatoes, which is really handy if you want more colors
6 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
A couple of shakes of black pepper
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley (optional)
Preheat your oven to 400° F
Halve and/or quarter your potatoes; chunks should be roughly between 1 and 3 cubic inches
Toss the chunks into a freezer bag with the remaining ingredients, adding enough olive oil to coat the potatoes, then mix in the bag
Spread the potatoes into a single layer on a pan or baking stone
Bake for an hour, flipping everything over at least once to keep things from scorching
Tortillas are surprisingly easy to make, but it does go a lot faster with two: one to flatten dough while the other cooks the previously-flattened dough. Each tortilla takes about as long to cook as to roll.
These tortillas are good enough to eat plain. They store well in a ziploc baggie.
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
(up to) 1 cup warm water
Preheat a large skillet on medium heat (our stove runs hot so it’s more like medium-low, YMMV)
Mix flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl
Cut in oil with a pastry blender or a fork
Slowly incorporate water, mixing until a soft dough forms
Make 2-inch dough balls – probably ten or twelve
Roll flat with a rolling pin. The dough should be as close to paper-thin as you can make it (you’ll probably wind up with cardstock).
You won’t need to flour the surface – if the dough is good it won’t stick (except maybe to the rolling pin)
Cook the tortillas one at a time until they start to bubble, then flip and heat until brown spots form.