I always love to have an abundant supply of ground meat on hand. It’s easy to pull out of the freezer, defrost, flavor, and cook up, all in a flash, just like how I used it in making this keftedes recipe.
If you’re familiar with Indians, you’ll know that they incessantly fear undercooked meat. I’m not talking about chicken here. That’s understandable. Lamb, beef, and goat (even fish) are all victims of overcooking; sadly, this even extends to vegetables.
My father graciously offered to grill the burgers at a family BBQ a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, what we had to witness for the next half hour was more than painful. We all had to watch the “burger bodyweight press.” The one where all the delicious juice is pressed out into the fire. Shame.
I know that his offer was rooted in his underlying fear of us poisoning ourselves with juicy, succulent burgers. But dry ground meat doesn’t stop at just burgers. I’ve had my share of crumbly dry meatballs, even without the burger-pressing maneuver. And for things like meatballs and meatloaves, it doesn’t just mean buying a higher fat content. There are plenty of ways to screw it still up – so here’s a foolproof way of getting amazingly moist meatballs!
Recipes for Greek keftedes, like many meatball recipes, call for soaking day-old bread in milk. But, since we know we can’t do that, I’ve picked up a trick from Michelle Tam’s book Food For Humans, where she uses mashed cauliflower instead of milk-soaked bread. Unfortunately, I don’t always have leftover mashed cauliflower lying around, so I take a different route with the cauliflower, but all with the same results.
Hearty Keftedes With Tzatziki Recipe
- 1 pound ground lamb (minced lamb)
- 1 small yellow onion - roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes - optional
- 1 large egg
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil - for frying
- 1 cup Greek yogurt - goat’s milk
- ⅓ cup cucumber - grated and squeezed of excess moisture
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill - finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons mint - finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest - optional
- 1 clove garlic - grated with a microphone
- To make the keftedes meatballs place steamed cauliflower, onion, and garlic into a food processor and blitz until everything is finely minced.
- Remove the onion mixture into a mixing bowl and add lamb, seasonings, and an egg to your ground. Then mix without overworking the meat, or it’ll become tough.
- If you want to let the flavors meld together, you can make this mixture ahead of time and refrigerate it, or you can resume making them into balls. Using a measuring tablespoon, scoop up a heap of ground lamb, gently form them into balls, and set them aside on a baking sheet.
- To cook the meatballs, you can either bake them in a preheated 450 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes or fry them in a pan with ¼-inch of oil on medium-high heat for two minutes on opposing sides until nicely browned.
- To make the tzatziki add all the ingredients to a small mixing bowl and combine.