I always love to have an abundant supply of ground meat on hand. It’s easy to pull out of the freezer, defrost, flavour and cook up, all in a flash.
It’s also really easy to mess up.
If you’re familiar with Indians, you’ll know that our people have an incessant fear of undercooked meat. I’m not talking about chicken here. That’s understandable. Lamb, beef and goat (even fish) are all victims of overcooking and sadly this even extents to vegetables. Palak gosht, anyone?
At a family BBQ a few weeks ago my father graciously offered to grill the burgers. What we young ones had to witness for the next half hour was more than painful. We all had to watch the “burger body weight press”. The one where all the delicious juice is pressed out into the fire. Shame.
I know for a fact that his offer was rooted in his underlying fear of us poisoning ourselves with juicy succulent burgers.
But dry ground meat doesn’t stop at just burgers. I’ve had my share of crumbly dry meatballs as well, even without the burger-pressing manoeuvre. And for things like meatballs and meatloaves it doesn’t just mean buying a higher fat content. There’s plenty of ways that you can still screw it up – so here’s a foolproof way of getting amazingly moist meatballs!
Recipes for Greek keftedes like many meatball recipes, call for soaking day-old bread in milk. Since we know we can’t do that I’ve picked up a trick from Michelle Tam’s book Food For Humans where she uses mashed cauliflower in place of milk-soaked bread. I don’t always have leftover mashed cauliflower laying around so I take a different route with the cauliflower but all with the same results.
These meatballs are great served as appetizers, especially during Ramadan when you have guests over. It can also be made to serve for dinner as well. After frying them I pop them in the freezer for quick dinners. I’ve simmered them in marinara and topped them over zucchini noodles with goat’s feta, all within ten minutes. That’s a win.
Keftedes with Tzatziki
Makes 30 meatballs
Ingredients for keftedes:
- 1 pound medium ground lamb
- ½ cup cauliflower florets, steamed
- 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon dried mint OR 1½ teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano OR 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 large egg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Avocado oil for frying (baking option as well)
Ingredients for tzatziki:
- 1 cup goat’s milk Greek yogurt OR coconut milk yogurt, strained
- ⅓ cup grated cucumber, squeezed of excess moisture
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
- 1 garlic clove, grated with a micropane
To make the keftedes meatballs place steamed cauliflower, onion and garlic into a food processor and blitz…
…Until everything is finely minced.
Remove the onion mixture into a mixing bowl in which you have your ground lamb…
…Along with all the seasonings….
….And an egg and mix without overworking the meat or it’ll become tough.
If you want to let the flavours meld together you can make this mixture ahead of time and refrigerate or you can resume onto making them into balls. Using a measuring tablespoon scoop up a heap of the ground lamb and gently form them into balls…
…And them set aside onto a baking sheet.
To cook the meatballs you can either bake them in a preheated 450° oven for 15 minutes or fry them in a pan with ¼-inch of oil on medium-high heat for two minutes on opposing sides until nicely browned.
To make the tzatziki add all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl…
(If you’re using strained coconut milk yogurt be sure to serve it with the meatballs after they cool down or else the tzatziki will melt from the heat.)