Keftesdes , delicious little Greek “fritters” can be made with lamb or beef, zucchini, tomatoes or chickpeas. They are “can’t stop eating them” starters. So many wonderful fresh vegetables are available that dinner tonight will be heavily weighted on the vegetable side with accents of beef Keftesdes.
Tender morsels of meat are redolent with coriander, cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg, fresh oregano. The recipe is easy so double it and freeze the extras for nibbles. Just put them frozen into the oven to warm them through.
Makes 20 Kewftesdes
Canola oil, for sauteing and pan-frying
1/2 cup minced or grated onion
1 garlic clove smashed beneath the flat side of a knife and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup diced day old bread
1/2 cup whole milk
1 pound ground beef or lamb
1 large egg
1 generous tablespoon torn fresh oregano leaves,
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
a really generous pinch of grated nutmeg
freshly ground pepper (lots)
all-purpose flour, for dusting,
handful of fresh mint leaves, for serving
3 lemons, first zested (for garnish) then cut into wedges
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Saute your onions in a little canola oil. Add a good sprinkle of salt and cook for a couple of minutes until the onion is translucent, then add the garlic and saute for 2 or 3 minutes more. Turn onto a plate and set aside to cool.
Put the bread in a small bowl and cover with milk.
In a large bowl combine onion, garlic, meat and egg. Squeeze out the bread (discard the milk) and add the bread along with all the spices and a good teaspoon of pepper. Mix the ingredient until evenly distributed. You can refrigerate this until ready to use (up to a day).
Form the mixture in balls a little smaller than golf balls. Then squeeze gently to form into long oval shapes. Roll in flour and shake off any excess.
In a large shallow pan, add enough canola oil to come up to about a third the height of a keftede. Heat over medium heat until hot (the keftedes should sizzle immediately upon hitting the oil). Pan-fry the keftedes, turning once, until just cooked through but still moist inside and with a nice crust outside, about five minutes. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
Arrange the keftesdes on a serving platter. Grind some fresh pepper over them, tear mint leaves onto them, grate the zest from the whole lemon onto them, then drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Serve the lemon wedges on the side for squeezing on top. Bon Appetit.