Greek Meatballs with Avgolemono and Santorini Capers
Greek meatballs, aka keftedes, are an all-time Greek classic! This Greek recipe for meatballs goes a step or two further, with a cloak of avgolemono, the tangy Greek egg-lemon sauce, and a few tablespoons of Santorini capers to perk up the whole dish. It also calls for lamb, so makes for a whole new take on Greek lamb recipes, too! You can serve this as a meze or main course, and if accompanied by a great, big Greek salad, you’ll have yourself a hearty, delicious Mediterranean diet meal.
- ¾ pound ground beef
- ¾ pound ground lamb
- 2 large red onions grated or minced about 2 cups
- 1 large tomato grated on a coarse grater*
- ¾ to 1 cup milk
- Greek sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ground Greek dried mint
- ¼-1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs as needed
- 1 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
- Olive oil for browning
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ cups vegetable or chicken stock or more, as needed
- 2 large eggs
- Fresh strained juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons Santorini capers rinsed and drained
* To grate the tomato: Keep the tomato whole and unpeeled. Cut off a quarter-size piece from the root end and begin grating the tomato into a bowl along the teeth of a coarse cheese grater.
Combine the ground meat and onions in a mixing bowl. Add the tomato, mint, salt, and pepper and knead well for about three minutes to combine. Pour in the milk and continue kneading until the liquid is completely absorbed. If the mixture is so loose that the keftedes do mot retain their shape, add a few tablespoons of plain fine breadcrumbs. Cover the mixing bowl and refrigerate the mixture for at least one hour or up to six, so that the flavors meld.
To form: Season the flour with salt and pepper and spread out onto a large plate. Have a second, clean plate ready. Take a tablespoon at a time of the meat mixture and form into a ball, about the size of a golf ball. Roll in the flour and shake dry in the palm of your hand. Place the dredged meatball on the clean plate. Continue with remaining mixture until all the meatballs are shaped.
In a large, deep skillet or wide pot, add about a quarter inch of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the dredged meatballs to the hot oil in batches, letting them brown and turning them gently with kitchen tongs to brown on all sides. Remove and drain on paper-towel-lined plates. Continue until all the meatballs are browned.
Pour the wine into the pan carefully and over medium heat bring it to a boil and scrape the pan to loosen any charred bits. Turn off the heat. Place the meatballs back in the pot. Add the vegetable or chicken stock and cook the meatballs for about 20 minutes, or until very tender.
In a nonreactive metal bowl, vigorously whisk together the eggs until very frothy. Slowly stream in the lemon juice, whisking all the while. Take a ladleful of the hot pot juices and very slowly drizzle them into the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while. Repeat with one more ladleful of the pot juices, continuing to whisk vigorously. Pour the egg-lemon-broth mixture back into the pot and tilt it back and forth to distribute it evenly. Gently stir in the capers. Serve hot.