Monday, December 04, 2006

Turkish Meatballs (Kofte)

According to a research of Yasar Group, Turkish cuisine features 291 different kinds of “kofte”. The most common form of kofte is grilled kofte. Before preparing your kofte, keep in mind, hand-chopped meat tastes better. Use a cleaver for mincing until fine grind texture. It is best to leave a little fat with the meat to add flavor and tenderness. As an alternative to cleaver, grind the meat twice in a meat grinder or a food processor could also be used to grind the meat.


400 gr. finely ground meat (rib roast of heifer )
1 large onion (grated)
3-4 bread slices (do not use stale)
1 egg
½ bunch fresh parsley (minced)
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons dried thyme or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tyme leaves
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons olive oil
4 tablespoons corn oil for frying (optional)


Bake fresh bread slices in a 300 degrees F / 150 degrees C / Gas mark 2 oven for aproximately 10 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from oven and let it cool.

Tear the bread slices into smaller pieces. Use a food processor to turn the pieces of bread into bread crumbs. Continue to grind until a coarse texture.

Combine minced rib roast, egg, grated onion, bread crumbs, grated garlic, 3 teaspoons olive oil, minced parsley, salt and spices into a mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon. Cover with cling film and place in a fridge to set for 2 hours.

2 hours later, take it out of the fridge, knead well until well mixed. Shape the mixture into small balls and flatten each into a circle about 2 inches in diameter. Place meatballs on a lightly greased charcoal grill. Do not overcook; it results in tough, dry meat. Turn halfway with cooking tongs, do not use fork. After taking it out of the grill, wait for 5-10 minutes to redistribute the juices inside the meat. Serve hot.

As an alternative to grilling, heat a medium size nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat. Heat the corn oil in the frying pan. If the oil is not hot enough, the meatballs will absorb too much oil and become greasy. If the oil is too hot, the surface of meatballs will burn from the direct heat of the oil.

Add the meatballs in small batches and fry them until cooked through. Fry both sides of meatballs. Repeat with the remaining meatballs, returning oil to the same level between batches.

Remove the fried meatballs with a slotted spoon, drain them on a paper towel. Once the excess oil has drained off the meatballs, place them on a warmed serving platter.

Serve hot with grilled tomatoes & green anaheim chili peppers, onions and sumac mixture or shepherd’s salad and Turkish rice pilaf.

To prepare onion and sumac mixture:
2 onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sumac
1 dessertspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt

Cut the onions in half first and then slice them into half-moon shapes. Soak onion slices in water for 10 minutes. Drain well. Mix olive oil, onion slices, sumac, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and salt.

Have a good appetite!

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