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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Soutzoukakia {Cumin Meatballs in Tomato}

I think there is something so humble about the meatball.  Sure, you can dress it up, but it still comes across as unassuming.  You can find the meatball perched atop a big mound of pasta, swimming in a brothy bowl of soup, or snuggled inside a crusty bun.  There are teeny tiny meatballs and there are meatballs the size of a softball.  From the usual suspects made from beef or pork or veal to their paler cousins made from chicken and turkey to the buoyant balls of shrimp or fish, the meatball instills comfort in many forms.  

These particular balls resemble a football (not in size, but in form).  They emanate the earthy, primal scent of cumin and they are bathed in deep, red tomatoes.  Yet they are soft, moist, and almost delicate.  Whether eaten on a bed of chewy, nutty brown rice right away or gently reheated and tucked inside some thick, comforting bread to make a sandwich later, they are a comfort and a delight to the taste buds.  It's always the quiet ones that surprise you.  The  humble meatball.
Cumin Meatballs in Tomato 
adapted slightly from Food from Many Greek Kitchens
serves 4-6

3½ oz. (~3 slices) crustless bread, torn up
¾ c. milk
13 oz. ground beef
12 oz. ground pork
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbs. Italian parsley, chopped
3 garlic cloves (2 minced, 1 whole)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
7 Tbs. olive oil, divided
2 (14 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes (or use whole and crush in your hands)
½ c. red wine

Place bread in a small bowl, cover with milk and let it sit for about 10 minutes to soak and soften.  In another bowl put ground meats, egg, cumin, parsley, and minced garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Squeeze excess milk out of bread and add it to the beef.  Mix everything very well using your hands.  Form into elongated meatballs, ~1¾ oz. each.  Line them up on a tray.
Heat 3 Tbs. of the oil in a nonstick pot, add the whole clove of garlic, and when it begins to smell good, add the tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper, put the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes or so, pressing on any big chunks as well as you can.  

Heat remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet with a lid.  Add the soutzoukakia (the skillet should be big enough that they all just fit).  Cook until golden all over, gently turning with tongs or a thin spatula.  When they look gently browned, add the wine and cook until it reduces, 5-6 minutes.  Scrape the tomato sauce over the meatballs and bring to a gentle boil.  

Put on the lid, lower the heat and simmer for ~20 minutes.  Move the skillet around a few times to make sure nothing is sticking.  In the end, there should still be a good amount of sauce for spooning over the meatballs.

Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, or french fries.
Our theme at IHCC this week is Peasant Food.
IHCC Tessa Kiros Button
I am also sharing this post with:
Tasty Tuesdays 33 shades of green TastyTuesdayBB hearthnsoul150

Would you like to comment?

  1. Me encanta como te ha quedado.


  2. I am craving meatballs now Heather. I don't have these beautiful meatbaklls but I do have some in the freezer that will do for supper.

  3. I have home made frozen meatballs waiting to be used; thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Oh! When I read this post, I thought of these Jewish meatballs that I made a while back ... has many of the same elements and they were so good! You are so right ... the humble meatball hides a million little surprises! Every culture its meatball recipe, too! Change up the meat mince and the spices, but leave the 'comfort food element!

    Excellent post, Heather!

  5. I found your blog through the Hearth & Soul bloghop. Your meatball recipe looks gorgeous! I am going to make it very soon!

  6. I have this one marked to try. How could I pass it up?!

    These "quiet ones" sure have a way of loudly popping in your photos! I can almost smell them cooking.

  7. It's almost 10am and I am now dying for a meatball. Delicious stuff!

  8. Ah, this is wonderful! Your description and photo have me begging for more. I want to taste. What a wonderful recipe!

  9. Oh my goodness! This looks delish! Great choice for "peasant food"!

  10. This looks so delicious...and I love the idea of little football shaped meatballs. The whole thing just looks so rich and tasty. I must get to this one sooner rather than later. Indeed.

  11. The earthy flavor of cumin is one that I adore...tastes so homey and comforting!

  12. The meatball may be humble, but in your hands it is an adventure.GREG

  13. I haven't eaten or made meatballs in ages, but how could I possibly resist this recipe! Peasant, nothing - we'll be eating royally with this dish. 8-)

  14. love meatballs so happy that you shared a different way to fix them I will have to try this thanks

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  16. Any meat with cumin is alright with me (not to mention Dave Matthews). I like your blog so I've chosen it for The Versatile Blogger Award--see your mention on my blog here:

  17. I love your description of the meatball. I would love it to be my best friend -- that is how great, you make it sound.

    The look and description make it so appealing. I guess, I have to make it so I can find out for myself.

  18. Right now "snuggled inside a crusty bun" sounds really good. :)

    This recipe looks delicious Heather.

  19. Mmm, so comforting on this cold and rainy day.
    And the cumin sounds just perfect in there! Delicious.

  20. Sounds fabulous and I like the cumin twist. I actually made some mozarella stuffed meatballs this week, which is funny becuase I never make meatballs. Must be that time of year :)

  21. The meatball is a versatile and delicious way to make any day a better day! blessings, Catherine

  22. love these cumin spiced meatballs, yummy comfort food!

  23. I like that, "the humble meatball", so true, and so delicious. The key is a mixture of pork and beef, as I've discovered in meatloaf as well.

  24. Delicious cumin meatballs, i like that spice as it is sweet one. Thanks for sharing with hearth and soul blog hop.

  25. These look and sound really delicious - especially as cumin is my favourite spice!

  26. Fragrant cumin typically makes me think of Southwestern dishes but this Greek creation sounds mouthwatering good.

  27. Loving the cumin in these--they look wonderful Great peasant food pick. ;-)

  28. I love meatballs and cumin...this recipe is for me. Nicely done.

  29. Great way to keep meat balls from turning out too dry.