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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

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. dried mint
  • 5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
  • 2 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 14 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 14 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 18 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
  • 12 cup flour, for dredging
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 12 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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