The other night we went over to one of my favorite Great Aunts, Thia Koula’s, house for dinner. We always look forward to such occasions as, aside from my amazing Yia Yia who is no longer with us, she was our favorite cook of the family. We always arrive at her house famished, knowing that there will be plenty of delicious food to sample and fill our bellies to the point of almost exploding with happiness. Thia Koula is pictured below, the beautiful lady on the right:
That night she had around 20 different dishes spread out over the large rectangular table, all of which were delectable in that home- cooking, lovingly crafted sort of way that you always remember and crave. Aside from my Great Uncle Pambo’s souvla, of which the recipe my brother and cousin tried on four separate occasions to get out of him to no avail (read: My brother:“Thio Pambo, what do you put in this souvla to make it so flavorful and off the chain?” Thio Pambo: “So, George, how is life in New Orleans/Pass me that salt please/Isn’t it a nice night out tonight?”), the star dish of the night was her glorious meatballs. Crispy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside, they were perfection in our mouths. I ate like 5 of them, which is a lot considering there were 19 other plates I sampled as well. Oh, and we loved them so much that she made us a whole other batch the next day that we took home to devour for the rest of the week. I actually just had breakfast and can’t wait to eat some for lunch already. After surprisingly hardly any convincing at all, my mom and I were able to get the recipe. Here it is, in Thia Koula’s words, with her own little tricks to make them extra special:
(Makes 6-8 servings/ difficulty: Medium)
1 lb ground beef
1.5 lbs ground pork (finely ground, so ask the butcher to do it for you)
3 medium baking potatoes, grated
5 medium onions ( 4 of them grated, 1 of them finely minced)
2 tbs finely minced mint
3 tbs finely minced parsley
2 tbs cumin
1 tbs salt
2 tbs pepper
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
½ cup olive oil
4 tbs baking powder
5 cups corn oil for frying
In a large strainer, grate, in order, ½ of a potato, then 1 onion, ½ potato, 1 onion, until there are no more potatoes or onion left. *Thia’s explanation for this technique makes sense: grating them in steps makes mixing easier, which will prevent over-mixing and keep the meatballs as soft as possible.* Top with the minced onion. Now press into the strainer to squeeze out most of the liquid from the potato/ onion mix.
Now, transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, with the eggs last. Mix very gently. Let it sit at room temperature for ½ an hour to an hour, to absorb the flavors.
Now, sprinkle with 4 tbs of baking powder, and mix again, and form the balls with about 3 tbs of the mix per ball.
Heat 5 cups of corn oil in a frying pan to medium-high heat. Drop them in around 5-6 at a time, turning them over once in the pan. Allow them to rest on a large plate lined with paper towels between batches.
Once all have been fried, cover before serving to keep them moist.
My personal note: These are really good with tzatziki sauce or just some plain greek yoghurt!