I hope everyone had a great start to 2011.
I was away and managed to miss most of the festivities. So far, I've had quite a slothful start to the new year. I hope this is not a sign of things to come! (Perhaps a better word would be "relaxing" rather than slothful!).A few weeks ago I made soutzoukakia.
Don't be put off by their hard to pronounce Greek name. They are basically meat balls shaped like asmall sausage. (Mine are probably a little longer than the usual plump soutzoukakia you find in many Greek taverns).
I can remember these being present at many Greek gatherings and barbecues whilst I was growing up. The funny thing is I haven't made them in ages and I'm actually glad I got a chance to play around with them recently. They were delicious and almost like I remembered them. I cooked mine on the stove top using a griddle pan and then finished them off in a pungent tomato sauce flavoured with cinnamon. Cooking them in a sauce like this changes the name of the dish to "soutzoukakia Smyrneika".
It's a reference to the Greeks who left Smyrna and brought this dish with them to Greece.
Politics aside, the sauce is delicious and works well with a side dish of rice pilaf, mash potatoes or french fries. I've served mine with some steamed rice and some blanched green beans.
Soutzoukakia Smyrneika Recipe
For the soutzoukakia:
- 500 grams of beef mince
- 2 thick slices of day old bread with the crusts removed
- 1/4 cup of red wine
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- a good “handful” of chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
For the tomato sauce:
- A few tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start off by preparing your sauce. Heat up your oil on a medium heat in a large pot and proceed to add the chopped onions and garlic. Allow them to cook for about 5 mins until they become translucent.
- Add the tomatoes, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, drop the heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken for about 30 mins.
- Allow to cool and let the flavours infuse.
- Prepare your soutzoukakia by soaking the bread in the wine until it has softened. Squeeze the wine out of the bread and add it to the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
- Mix well ensuring everything is combined. The mixture should feel soft.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
- Remove from the refrigerator and using moistened hands, pinch off portions of the meat mixture and shape into oblong-ish patties. Place them on some baking paper as you prepare them.
- Heat up a griddle pan brushed with olive oil and proceed to cook the soutzoukakia until they are browned on all sides. Approx. 5-7 mins.
- Once they are cooked re-heat your sauce and add them to the sauce mixture.
- Cook the soutzoukakia for another 15 mins.
(Adapted from Vefa's Kitchen)
Serve immediately with rice, mash or fried potatoes. For a little treat I like to serve any left over soutzoukakia (the next day...if there is any) at room temperature sandwiched between a cut baguette. Beer, crisps and I'm set! 😉