Redolent of oregano and mint, these meatballs are served in northern Greece as a meze with fried potatoes or steamed rice.
Yield: serves 4-6
- 1 tbsp. dried mint
- 5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
- 2 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
- 1⁄8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 medium red onion, grated
- 1 large egg and 1 yolk, beaten
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup milk
- 3 1/2″-thick slices stale country bread, crusts removed
- 1 lb. ground beef, pork, or lamb
- 1⁄2 cup flour, for dredging
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and pureed
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- In a medium bowl, combine mint, 2 tbsp. oil, 1 tbsp. oregano, 1⁄8 tsp. cinnamon, 1⁄8 tsp. nutmeg, cayenne, onions, and eggs; season with salt and pepper. Put milk and bread in a bowl; let soak 5 minutes. Drain bread; squeeze out milk. Mix bread, onion mixture, and meat. Divide mixture into 20 balls; flatten slightly into patties or roll into ovals. Dredge each meatball in flour. Pour enough oil into a 12″ skillet to reach a depth of 1⁄2″; heat over medium-high heat. Working in 3 batches, cook meatballs until browned, 6-8 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towels. Discard oil; wipe out skillet.
- Heat remaining oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and bay leaves; cook 2 minutes. Add remaining oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg, along with the tomatoes and broth. Cook, stirring, until thickened, 15-20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Nestle meatballs in sauce; cook until sauce coats meatballs, about 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley.