Mint and Ouzo Flavored Meatballs: Keftedakia
- 2 slices home-style bread, crusts removed and torn into small pieces
- 1/4 cup ouzo or other anise-flavored liqueur, such as Pernod
- 6 tablespoons Greek olive oil, or more as needed
- 3/4 cup finely chopped white onions
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup ouzo
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped oregano leaves
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Chopped fresh mint and parsley leaves, garnish
- Kefalotyri, grated, garnish
- Ouzo, accompaniment
In a bowl, soak the bread pieces in the ouzo until the ouzo is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the meat and onions. Squeeze the bread dry and add to the mixture. Add the remaining ingredients except the flour and Essence, and mix well with your hands. With wet hands, shape the mixture into small balls about the size of a walnut.
In a shallow dish, combine the flour and Essence. Roll the meatballs in the flour to lightly coat on all sides. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil over high heat. Add the meatballs in batches, being careful not to overcrowd and cook until evenly browned and cooked through, shaking the pan from time to time, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and place in a baking dish in the oven to keep warm. Cook the remaining meatballs, adding more oil as needed to the pan.
Make the sauce in a separate pan.
In a separate pan, add the olive oil and heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and carefully add the ouzo. Return the mixture to the heat and flambe. Cook until the flames die down. When the flames go out, add the herbs and cook for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and pour over the meatballs.
Arrange on a platter, sprinkle with the chopped herbs and grated Kefalotyri, and serve hot with glasses of ouzo.Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.