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Playing Michael Symon’s Keftedes (Mom’s Little Meatballs)


  • 1/2 cup diced day-old bread
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • About 1 quart canola oil, for sautéing and pan-frying, divided
  • 1/2 cup minced or grated onion (10 ounces)
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon torn fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup flour, for dusting
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves, coarsely torn, for serving
  • 2 lemons, one cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Serves: 8


In a small bowl, combine the bread and milk; set aside. In a medium skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the canola oil over medium. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt, and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent and the garlic is softened, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

To the onion mixture, add the meat, egg, oregano, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread (discard the milk) and add to the bowl. Mix together gently with your hands until evenly distributed. Form into about 20 balls slightly smaller than a golf ball.

Place the flour in a medium bowl. Roll the meatballs in the flour, shake off any excess and transfer to a plate.

In a large, shallow skillet, add enough canola oil to measure 1/3-inch deep. Heat over medium.  Cook the keftedes, turning occasionally, until browned and just cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.

Arrange the keftedes on a plate. Season with fresh pepper, top with the mint leaves. Grate the zest from the whole lemon over the meatballs. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Serve with the lemon wedges for squeezing over.

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