Izmir Köftesi-“Meatball Casserole”

         This recipe was inspired by one of our favorite meals at a restaurant we used to own that specialized in Turkish flatbreads and entrees like this that were dubbed “home food”, in reference to a typical meal you’d find in a Turkish home, but not a fancy establishment. It was most often prepared in the winter by one of our chefs, who used to spice the koftes a bit more, which you can do, or keep them mild if you are serving a family. This recipe is adapted from The Sultan’s Kitchen: A Turkish Cookbook by Özcan Ozan, and from tasting and experimenting!

Although I have been to the city these meatballs are named after, I do not have a photo because I was only there briefly and at night. Either way, Izmir’s namesake baked kofte’s are easy to prepare and go great with a green salad.

     Ingredients:

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 1/2 lb (3 cups) ground beef or lamb

1/2 small white onion (1/4 cup, finely grated)

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 eggs

1 tsp. paprika

1 tbsp. cumin

1/4 fresh chopped parsley (flat leaf works best)

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. tomato paste

2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped

2 cups beef broth

2 medium green Italian peppers, seeded and chopped diagonally

3 medium potatoes, peeled, sliced into wedges

    Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Kofte:  Combine the ground beef/lamb, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, eggs, paprika, cumin, and parsely in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and knead with hands until well mixed. Form the mix into sausage-shaped links, (using water to moisten hands to prevent sticking) and set aside.  Heat a skillet over med-high heat and spray with cooking spray, and then brown the kofte’s on all sides. Set them in a baking dish and set aside.

 Meanwhile, boil a medium pot of water and lightly boil the potato wedges until still firm, but poke-able with a fork. Drain. Heat a frying pan with 1 tbsp. of butter and lightly salt, then saute the potatoes for a few minutes and place in the baking dish around the kofte’s.

Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a small saucepan and add the tomato paste. Stir while cooking over medium heat and add tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Pour the mixture over the kofte and potatoes. Sprinkle the top with chopped peppers, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until the kofte’s no longer have any pink.

Serve with rice or bulgur pilav.

Ozan, Özcan. “Paşa Köftesi”. The Sultan’s Kitchen: A Turkish Cookbook. Singapore: Periplus, 2001. 77. Print.
ISBN: 962-593-944-X

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