Friday, August 29, 2008

Izmir Kofte-- A Meatball Dish With a Hint of Cinnamon

Izmir Kofte Inside View

There are not many dishes that can claim to be regulars at our dinner table. I may love a dish and never make it again. After all, the culinary world is such a vast ocean to explore... The pleasure of discovery is what keeps me in the kitchen, happily creating and experimenting. One dish keeps coming back though, unapologetically breaking all rules.

Izmir Kofte

I first made Izmir Kofte fifteen years ago. I was a young bride then, barely venturing into ethnic cuisine. I immediately loved the pillow soft meatballs perfectly flavored with cinnamon and swimming in a sea of tomato sauce. The chopped pistachios and parsley, a beautiful contrast to the deep richness of the red sauce, only added to the experience. Over the years, I have made them many times for guests and never has one left my table without requesting this excellent recipe.

Izmir Kofte (serves 4)
If you are not watching out for wheat or gluten, feel free to use regular slices of wheat bread.

Ingredients for the meatballs:

1 lb of lean grass-fed ground beef
1 egg
5 oz of Gluten-Free bread, soaked in water, squeezed dried and crumbled
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped parlsey
1 tsp sea salt
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tsp cinnamon
olive oil

Izmir Kofte Browning in Iron Pan

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and mix really well- I like to use my hands for this step and the next. Then form ping-pong sized meatballs. Just make sure, to soap up your hands really well after handling raw meats and eggs. Heat a large pan, such as a seasoned iron pan or nonstick pan, with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon). In batches, if necessary, brown the meatballs and then transfer to a plate. You don't want to overcrowd the pan, this makes it more likely that the meatballs will fall apart or steam instead of browning properly.

Izmir Kofte in Pot

Ingredients for the sauce:

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup of finely chopped onions
1 can of tomato paste (6oz)
2 1/2 cans of warm water (use the tomato paste can)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tsp of salt
1/4 cup of chopped raw pistachios
1/2 cup of finely chopped parsley

In a dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the meatballs in the pot.
In a bowl mix together the paste, water, lemon juice, sugar, salt. Pour mixture on top of meatballs and give a gentle stir. Bring to a boil and then cover and keep simmering for 45 minutes. Give another gentle stir at about halfway through the cooking process. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios and parsley on top. Serve over rice.

Izmir Kofte

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy:
Fig Chicken with Rosemary


Leonor said...

I love spicy food... It looks so different and ethnic!!

Unfortunately I spend so much time with "my" desserts that I almost don't cook at all... I'm tempted!


Clumbsy Cookie said...

Beautiful spicy meatballs! I'm sure the cinnamon will give thse such a nice touch! Yummmmmmmmmmmmm!

Mary Ann said...

I love meatballs of any kind and I will definitely be trying this one. Beautiful pics!

Katie said...

You lived in Brazil as a teen? How awesome!

These meatballs look amazing...I love meatballs.

chefectomy said...

Hi Alexa - MIA for a bit with the move. It is so funny you posted this. I truly love Koftes and have never seen this specific preparation. I will be making this and will let you know how I come up. I have a series of blogs coming up on Turkish food so your timing is very inspiring.

Well done!


Dhanggit said...

all your photos are gorgeous & spectacular!!! i love meatballs and the touch of cinnamon makes it even merrier!! yum

Girl Japan said...

Cinnamon- what an intriguing spice to use in meatballs! I love your damask table setting too...

Dee said...

I'm a little like that in that I hardly ever cook the same thing twice. There are exceptions of course, but I rather spend calories on a new experience.

The meatballs sound excellent! I love the photographs too. I'm not good with meat - they tend to end up grey in my photos.

bakingforthecure said...

these looks soo great! I wish I had a big bowl of these!

Apples and Butter said...

Those meatballs look delicious and the boyfriend would definitely be excited to see those come across the dinner table. Thanks for sharing!

Alexa said...

A person cannot live on sugar alone or can she? If we lived in the same area, we could trade: you bake my desserts and I'll cook your meals.:-)

Thanks. The cinnamon makes this dish so special.

Mary Ann,
Meatballs are a big hit with my family as well.

It was a great experience and I had a great time.

I am so glad you're back. I can't wait to try your Turkish recipes. :-)

Thanks for your nice comment.

Girl Japan,
Thanks. I have my sister to thank for the table setting. I am lucky, she always finds me the best tableware.

Ahhh, so glad I am not alone. I often feel like I have A.D.D when it comes to food-- It makes our meals more fun.

Thanks for your visit and comment.

Apples and Butter,
You're welcome! I hope he likes them. :-)

Kristen said...

A hint of cinnamon.. how unique!
I love meatballs and I love how slightly different this dish is. Looks yummy!

Passionate About Baking said...

Always up for a great meatball recipe Alexa. Hvnt come across such an alluring one for a while. Love the marriage of flavours in this. Can't wait to give this a shot...YUM YUM YUM!!

cindy* said...

this looks like a recipe i will definitely try. it looks so tasty!

Polina said...

Thanks for this great recipe. I tried these tonight and we both really enjoyed them! I was surprised at how similar the meatball recipe is to the Russian "katleta" meat patty (with the exception of cinnamon)!

Alexa said...

Deeba and Cindy,
I am so glad to hear you'll try it. Enjoy!

I am so happy for your comment. I'm glad it was a hit. I have never tried katleta... I am going to have to go digging the web for that recipe :-)

bee said...

is this turkish? arabic persian? must have been delicious.

mona said...

Looks yumm!

Tanya said...

I recently had these delicious meatballs at a Mediterranean Bistro on Cape Cod and have been searching for a recipe without any luck.
During my search I found your site, which is great by the way, and this recipe. Can't wait to try it.
As an aside, the Izmir Kofte I had also included figs and pistachios in the meatballs along with a Yogurt Sauce. I'm going to experiment and see what I come up with.

Anonymous said...

I always believe there is no single way to cook anything and This looks like a delicious recipe but it would be wrong to call this "Izmir Kofte" as prepared in the Turkish cuisine. Let me explain...

First, cinnamon in savory dishes is an absolute no-no in Turkish cuisine. 99% of the time it is only found in desserts. Second, the way Izmir Kofte is cooked is very different than what you describe here. However, the basic "shape" is there, you cook meatballs and it is served with a tomato based sauce. Do a search on the web and check out the recipes described by Turkish cooks and you'll see there are some major differences.

Dixiejet said...

This was DELICIOUS ! I lived in Turkey and also visited once after I moved and I adore the flavor of cinnamon in meat. Wonderful consistency and flavor. Bravo !

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