Izmir Koftesi

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This Turkish classic of meatballs and potatoes in tomato sauce is perfect anytime as a simple dinner or as an addition to an iftar table (the meal Muslims eat when they break their fast during the month of Ramadan). There are different ways to make the dish: some people form the meatballs into small football shapes; others prefer patties. Some sear the meatballs before baking; others put them in the oven raw. I prefer forming patties because they look better when arranged with the potatoes and are easier to sear. And I like searing them because it locks in the juices, but you can do whatever you prefer.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 10 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Ingredients

Directions

  1. Place the ground beef, parsley, breadcrumbs, Aleppo pepper flakes, cumin, egg, onions, 3 of the minced garlic cloves, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oregano, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and combine well using your hands. The mixture will be wet and a bit sticky. Form into 20 to 24 meatballs about 1/2-inch-thick in the shape of your choosing (see Headnote).
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches and adding more oil as necessary, sear the meatballs until nicely browned on two sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.   
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  
  4. Slice the potatoes crosswise 1/2 inch thick into a total of 20 to 24 slices. Arrange the seared meatballs and potatoes in an alternating pattern in a 9-by-9-inch baking dish. Set aside. 
  5. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to darken and release its color into the oil, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oregano, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and give the mixture a nice stir. Add 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then taste and add more salt, if needed. 
  6. Pour the sauce gently over the meatballs and potatoes. Top with the bell peppers and tomatoes. Cover with parchment paper and bake until the potatoes are tender and the meatballs are cooked through, 40 to 50 minutes. 
  7. Garnish with parsley before serving.