Cypriot meatballs • Kefthedes
Traditionally these meatballs are Greek. I can still sense my mother’s frustration as she stood frying a colossal batch of kefthedes for dinner, only for them to be gorged as soon as they came out of the frying pan, rightly so burning our fingers and tongues along the way. We were brought up to be polite, eat at the table.
Nowadays kefthedes are a firm favourite with my children, and who am I to reprimand if they do just the same? It is clearly a childhood trait!
Makes approx. 16-20
1kg of lean pork, coarsely minced
(or half and half minced pork
1 kg of Cypriot potatoes, peeled,
2 large onions, finely chopped
¼ of a large day- old loaf made
into crumbs (the best is a circular Greek loaf)
1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 small bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
salt and black pepper
a generous pinch of ground cinnamon
olive oil or groundnut oil for frying
Simply knead together all the ingredients in a large bowl. Season well. Flatten to level the mixture in the bowl then drizzle a very thin film of oil to cover the surface. Chill for half an hour.
Take small scoops of the meat mixture and shape as preferred – small round meatballs to tuck into pitta bread pockets as part of a meze or larger oval shapes for a main meal. Always have a bowlful of cold water nearby to dip your hand in which helps prevent you and the meatballs from getting too sticky!
Meanwhile pour enough oil into a heavy based, deep, lidded saucepan to fill to just over one-third. Steadily heat the oil until a cube of day-old bread browns in under a minute.
Fry a few meatballs at a time, for 5-6 minutes or until deliciously browned and crispy on the outside and cooked through.If making the larger oval ones, you will need approximately 10-12 minutes frying time. Bring the oil back up to temperature in between batches. Transfer the cooked kefthedes onto kitchen towel to drain. Keep warm uncovered until ready to serve.
Enjoy big oval meatballs as the main part of a meal served with fresh yogurt and lemon wedges and of course a fresh village salad. Or serve smaller circular balls as a meze or for a party. Pile into pitta bread with hoummus, Greek yogurt, olives and capers. Hot straight from the frying pan, cold straight from the fridge or at room temperature, yummy whichever way!
I now prefer not to fry kefthedes so I arrange the meat balls onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, brushing each with a little oil before cooking in a hot oven (180°C/Gas 4) for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through.