Greek Meatballs (Keftethes)

Growing up with a Greek mother meant our house revolved around food.  My mum is an amazing cook.  I always looked forward to dinner, and one of my favourite meals growing up was keftethes with homemade chips and salad.  These meatballs are simple to make and are full of flavour.

500 grams beef mince (good quality, lean heart smart)
3 slices white bread, finely processed into breadcrumbs
1 small red onion, finely grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
Finely grated zest of one large lemon
Juice from one large lemon (use the one you zested earlier)
Large handful Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons salt flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Extra olive oil (extra virgin), for shallow frying

Pre-heat the oven to 150C.

Place the mince into a large bowl.

Add to it the finely processed bread crumbs, finely chopped parsley, grated onion, crushed garlic, lemon zest, dried oregano, pepper, crushed salt flakes and olive oil.

Mix all the ingredients together using your hands until well combined.

Taking a tablespoon of mixture at a time, squeeze and roll into small balls and place onto a clean plate.  Continue to do this until all the mixture is used up.  Each meatball should be the size of a walnut.

Place the plate with the meatballs into the fridge for at least 15 minutes to ensure they become firm.

In a large heavy based frying pan, pour in enough olive oil to cover the base, approximately 1cm in depth.  Heat the oil on high, keeping a close eye on it at all times.

When the oil is hot enough, place 8 to 10 meatballs into the frying pan (depending on the size of your pan), ensuring there is enough room around each one to turn them easily.  Have a clean oven-proof dish next to the pan so you can transfer your cooked meatballs into it once they are ready.

Cook the meatballs on one side until golden brown, then using a spatula, carefully scrape under each one and gently turn them over and cook on the other side until it is also golden brown.  You can gently press on each meatball at this point, but do not flatten them as you want them to retain their round shape.

Once the first batch of meatballs are cooked, transfer them into an oven proof dish.  Sprinkle a little lemon juice on them and place the dish into the warm oven while you continue to cook the remaining meatballs.  Cook the remaining meatballs in batches of around 8 to 10, until they are all cooked.  Each time you remove a batch of cooked meatballs, remove the dish from the oven, place your cooked meatballs into it and sprinkle a little more lemon juice on them.  This ensures the meatballs remain moist and adds a delicious flavour.

Once all of the meatballs are cooked, ensure you have used the juice of the entire lemon on them.

Serve the keftethes with rice and steamed vegetables dressed in olive oil, lemon juice and freshly ground salt & pepper, or alternatively a nice garden salad.


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