Weekly Winner: My New Thing to Put in a Pita – Turkish Kofte

This will not win any photographic awards, but dang, these little patties are tasty! I am a fan of meatballs – I don’t care what country they come from or really, what they’re made out of (within reason, of course). If it’s a ball of meat cooked until crispy on the outside and tender and tasty on the inside, I’m there. Give those meatballs some sort of luscious sauce and put it in a sandwich and you’ve got a fan for life here. That’s how I feel about these Turkish Meatballs (Kofte).

The recipe comes from Milk Street Kitchen and without a doubt, they are the moistest, most flavorful meatballs I’ve ever made. That is due, in no small part, to the pita and yogurt that are mixed into the meatballs, and the herbs that are heated in olive oil before being added to the mix. All of this combines to make a quick, fun, exotic dinner.

Turkish Meatballs (Kofte)

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely grated

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp dried oregano

8-inch pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces) plus extra for serving

1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1/4 cup water

1 cup packed fresh mint leaves (1 oz) finely chopped

1-1/2 lbs 90 percent lean ground beef

1-1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

Procedure:

  • In a small bowl, stir together 2 Tbsp olive oil, the shallot, garlic, cumin, cinnamon and oregano. Microwave until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the torn pita, yogurt and water, then use your hands to mash the mixture to a smooth paste. Add the reserved oil-shallot mixture, the mint, beef, salt and pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly mix. Divide into 12 portions and roll each into a smooth ball. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add the meatballs and use a metal spatula to press into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Cook over medium, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the meatballs register 140F and are well browned on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, cover loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes.

Lime-Yogurt Sauce

Makes 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

3 Tbsp tahini

3 Tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

  • In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth.
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Weekly Winner – Perfect Pita, Better Suited for Lunch

With the weather warming up (and getting downright hot here in Chicago), I’m definitely looking for lighter lunch options.  But I must admit, I do get tired of salads and inevitably wind up craving a sandwich.  What could be better than combining the two?  Enter my latest Weekly Winner:  in my opinion, the mis-named Crispy Breakfast Pita.  I got the recipe from the Food Network Magazine and except for the fact that it has an egg on it, am not sure why they felt it was best-suited for breakfast.  It makes a quite lovely midweek lunch.  Here it is:

Crispy Breakfast Pitas

Serves 6

Ingredients:

6 6-inch pita breads

Extra-virgin olive oil

6 large eggs

3/4 cup (6 ounces) mascarpone cheese

Grated zest of 1/2 large lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 packed cups (3 ounces) arugula or baby spinach

8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Directions:

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush each side of the pita breads with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until crisp. Remove from the grill and cool slightly.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs directly into the pan and cook until the egg whites are set, 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine the mascarpone cheese, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Add the arugula and toss until coated.

Spread each pita with 2 tablespoons of the mascarpone mixture. Divide the prosciutto on top. Divide the arugula and mound on top of the prosciutto. Carefully place a fried egg on top of each pita. Season the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper, and serve.