That's right...in celebration of the One Year Anniversary of Debbie's book, her publisher, BenBella was offering bloggers a free copy of the book in return for them recreating one of Debbie's dishes and giving an honest review of the cookbook and the recipes. I had already done this last year when I won the book but was so pleased with the cookbook and results that I asked if I could participate in this party. BenBella generously agreed and since I didn't need the cookbook they said I could raffle it off to my readers. How nice is that??
I chose to make Soutzoukakia or, in laymans terms, Greek Meatballs, using this recipe from Debbie's book.
Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Here is what Debbie had to say:
"These little delights remind me of my grandmother, Thespena, for whom I am named. Her soutzoukakia were magical, and even though my mom and my aunts use the exact same ingredients, they have yet to replicate the flavor and texture of Yiayia’s. I still wonder if she had a secret ingredient she never divulged. Still, this is her recipe, and it will yield a fantastic result—secret ingredient or not!"
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE MEATBALLS
1 to 11/2 cups day-old bread, crusts removed, cubed
11/2 pounds lean ground beef, extra ground
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe Pilafi (page 230) (optional)
To make the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the tomatoes, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring every so often, until the tomatoes break down, about 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking dish.
To make the meatballs: Soak the bread briefly in a bowl of water, just to wet it all the way the through. Squeeze the water from the bread, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Use impeccably clean hands to gently mix the remaining meatball ingredients together until thoroughly combined.
Roll the meat mixture into little sausage shapes, about 2 inches long. Carefully arrange the meatballs in the prepared baking dish in an even layer. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the oven and immediately add them to the tomato sauce, taking care not to break them. Gently stir to coat the meatballs in the sauce and cook for 5 minutes more over low heat. Serve over Pilafi, if desired.
The only change I made to the above recipe is to used canned tomatoes because it is April in Michigan and hard to find decent fresh tomatoes. When Tingting finished her 3rd, yes 3rd serving, she declared this recipe a keeper. The meatballs were tender, moist and flavorful. I did choose to serve them over Pilafi. I am sharing that recipe with you on a separate post, but it was perfect with these meatballs and dinner was ready and on the table in one hour which makes it a perfect weeknight meal.
If you live in the USA and are reading this blog you are eligible to win Debbie's cookbook, It's All Greek To Me courtesy of BenBella Books. This giveaway will start today. 4/17/15 and run until Midnight ET on 4/24/15. Good Luck!!!!
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