Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CSA week two - Zucchini and bulgar keftedes

This is the recipe I mentioned on Saturday, but I misremembered my geography. These are Greek meetballs, not Spanish. More specifically, this are a variation on a recipe by chef Jim Botsacos of Molynos in New York based on Macedonian and Thracian versions. Although, to tell the truth, because I couldn't get kefalotyri cheese or ouzo (I chose the grocery to shop at poorly) and because I cut down on the mint (I've had a bad experience with overly-minty meatballs before) [link], these aren't all that Greek at all.

The recipe I'm vulgarizing I found at the Atlantic's food channel.

It goes something like this:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound zucchini and/or squash, grated
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 chopped hot pepper, or red pepper flakes to taste
1 cup bulgur wheat
2/3 cup milk
1 pound ground sirloin
2 eggs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons dry white wine
1 Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
flour for dredging
oil for deep frying

1. In a large cast iron pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add zucchini and sauté for 10 minutes, until they become meltingly soft. You don't want browning, but you do want the zucchini to lose a good bit of moisture. That means you should use a 10-inch pan so the zucchini is piled up and steams somewhat instead of a real proper sauté.

Add the onions and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes longer until onions become translucent. Remove from heat and stir in the bulgar wheat. When the pan seems cool enough that the milk isn't going to sizzle away, stir in that too. Let stand for 15 minutes until the bulgar softens.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the ground sirloin, eggs, garlic, mint, parsley and wine. When the zucchini mixture is ready, mix it in too. Mix in the cheese and salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. [The recipe says up to 8 hours. I don't know what happens after that.]

3. Cook a small amount of the mixture in a pan or microwave to check for seasoning. Adjust if necessary.

4. Heat frying oil in whatever you like to deep fry in (I use my flat-bottomed wok a.k.a. migas pan). Measure a heaping Tablespoon of the mixture (I found a coffee scoop worked well), flatten into a thick patty and dredge in flour. Shake off excess flour and fry in batches for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through if your oil is shallow. You're aiming for a deep browning, but not a thick crust. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Makes around 50.

Serve hot or room temperature, preferably with a yogurt sauce or a Greek salad. Or just pop them into your mouth while you're cooking as soon as they're cool enough to handle.

These are pretty darn tasty. It's got that sort of meat loaf nature of meat, vegetable and starch that have all absorbed each others flavors. It's weird that you can't even pick out the mint or the beef, which actually tastes a bit more like lamb. Other than a little chewiness from some of the bulgar, the textures have melded together too. This would be a great way to sneak zucchini into someone's diet.


kat said...

These sound really great to me, I bet they'd be good in pita for a sandwich

billjac said...

I bought some pita specifically for that purpose, but I had already eaten my fill by the time I was finished cooking all the batches of keftedes so I never got around to making a proper meal out of them.

LaDivaCucina said...

Hi Bill I just ran across this recipe for polenta ice cream by David Lebovitz! Tell me what you think, thought you'd enjoy it!

billjac said...

Huh, interesting. Toasting the corn flour probably breaks down the carbohydrates that would cause it to thicken the mixture. So it's really there just for the flavor, pretty similar to the ice creams I've made by mixing in malted milk and finely ground oatmeal.

As for the flavor, corn ice cream is pretty common in Mexico and toasting would only be an improvement.

I've got some extra-finely ground polenta that I could easily toast. It'd probably work with the avocado too. Hmm...