Recipe for Greek Meatballs with a tomato based sauce – serve with pasta or rice
600 grams ground beef or lamb, such as chuck, neck or rib at least 20% fat
1 onion, coarsely grated
1 zucchini coarsely grated (some use finely grated potato but I prefer zucchini because it softens up faster)
2 pieces of bread, crusts removed, soaked in white wine and squeezed dry or 2-4 tablespoons bread crumbs
1/3 cup each parsley and oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon,
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of lamb tail fat for frying (in Israel lamb tail fat can be bought frozen at the butchers)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4-5 tomatoes, liquefied in a food processor (if none is available with a sharp knife make a shallow x on the bottom of the tomatoes and submerge in hot water for a few minutes to loosen skin. Plunge in ice water and remove skin easily. Chop them up.
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste (if the tomatoes are vine ripe and red tomato paste does not need to be added)
A splash of white wine
Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and knead well to form a uniform mix. It should be neither watery nor stiff, but the consistency of soft playdough. Let rest in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile for the sauce add a tablespoon of lamb tail fat to a medium sized pot and melt it. Add the onions and saute them on medium heat until they are just beginning to brown, add the garlic and mix for a few moments being careful to burn them.
Add the purified tomatoes or peeled chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and cook on low heat until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.
Take the meatball mix from the refrigerator and form 15-18 balls out of them, flattening them slightly. In a cast iron skillet or other heavy frying pan add a tablespoon or two of the lamb tail fat and add the meatballs, frying on high heat to brown both sides nicely. Fry in batches to avoid crowding because that will cause the meatballs to weep. The meatballs will continue cooking in the sauce and shouldn’t be fully cooked at this point.
Transfer to a plate. Add a splash of white wine to the frying pan and scrape all the brown bits off with a wooden spoon and pour into the sauce. Add the meatballs to the sauce; don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t cover them completely.
There should be just enough sauce to come half way up the top layer. Cook on low heat, at a simmer, covered for 20-30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. I served them with rice and souri olives instead of traditonal Greek kalamatas.