Saucy Greek Threesome: Meatballs, Risotto and Saganaki

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Herblay, France

Hi everyone ,

During our last week on Milos, I spent a terrific day with our friend Vasilis in the kitchen of his restaurant, Alevromilos. It was so interesting to see how  he manages to make three or more dishes at a time. He cooks everything fresh to order,so he is super organised. One of the few things he preps ahead is his basic tomato sauce and that was the foundation for a lot of what we made that day.

On the menu was: aubergine saganaki, aubergine risotto and chicken meatballs-all easy and all delicious in large part because of the tomato sauce. We also made red pepper dip, feta in filo and orange filo cake but those are for another day.

Here goes:

Basic Greek Tomato Sauce: makes a lot and will keep in the fridge for a week or you can freeze it for up to a month. We made the three dishes and there was a lot left over.

Take:

1 onion, chopped medium dice

1/2 big green pepper, chopped medium dice

enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large stock pot

Put everything in the stock pot and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add:

1/2 cup dry red wine

12 big ripe tomatoes, quartered and whizzed around a food processor until quite liquid. This was excellent; no straining seeds or grating-just a flip of a switch and it’s all good. What could be easier? You need a fairly big processor but you can do it in batches if necessary. Also, if it’s white or pink tomato season where you are, you can use canned (I buy organic in glass jars-delish!).

2 large cloves raw garlic (put a toothpick in each one so you can fish it out later)

3 big bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

1 handful torn basil leaves

1 heaping tsp dried basil (use Greek if you can)

3 cups water

Now:

Stir and raise the heat to high or leave on medium. See below .

Add:

2 heaping tsp mild paprika

1 tbsp salt

2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp sugar (you can also use vinegar and add it with the wine)

And:

Stir once in a while. Cook for 45 minutes on high for 2 hours on medium. Take off the heat and process with a wand mixer to desired consistency. You might want to leave some a bit chunky and process the rest until smooth. Adjust seasoning.

20151026_113549For the Aubergine Saganaki: Serves 2

Take 5 slices of aubergine  from the middle of a 20151026_123611large aubergine (eggplant). Fry until golden, and place in the bottom of an oven proof dish. (Save the rest of the aubergine for the risotto.) Ladle tomato sauce over the aubergine to cover. Crumble 200 grams of feta (or as much as you like) over the top and sprinkle a handful of  grated Parmesan or Pecorino. Top with 100 grams grated solid type mozzarella and put in the oven for long enough for the cheese to melt and bubble. So, yes, it’s a lot of cheese-adapt to suit your arteries.

For the Aubergine Risotto: Serves 3/420151026_110845

This is not like an Italian Risotto. It is a speciality of Milos and Syros Islands and very, very tasty.

Take:

1 big aubergine or one medium plus what’s left from the saganaki, cubed

1 small onion chopped, medium dice

enough olive oil to cover bottom of large pot

Put it all in and cook over medium for 10 minutes.

Add:

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup risotto rice

Stir and let cook 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Put 2 very ripe tomatoes in a food processor and process until quite liquid (sound familiar?). Add to aubergine mixture along with 1 clove raw garlic (don’t forget the toothpick) plus 1 tsp each of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Now put in a small handful of torn fresh basil and 1 tsp dry. Top it off with 3 1/3 cups of water and stir. Leave it off the heat until 40 minutes before serving. Heat on medium high and cook for 15 minutes, stirring once in a while. Remove from the heat-it will be quite liquid- and let sit for 20 minutes. The rice will plump up. Dig in!

For the Chicken Meatballs:20151026_133344

Mince 500 grams of chicken (or turkey) breast in a food processor, add 1 small chopped onion, 1/4 of a green pepper, the leaves from 10 branches of parsley and process until fine but you can still see bits of pepper. You can do it more if you like but I like the texture better this way. Add 2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 2 tbsp fine breadcrumbs, 1 tsp dried basil and 2 tsp mild paprika. Add 3 tbsp olive oil and mix all by hand until everything is all well integrated and evenly distributed. Form balls the size of golf balls, put of a cookie sheet and refrigerate for half an hour. Take out of the fridge and fry in hot oil, flatten if you need to so that the oils covers the meatballs. Drain on paper towels. Put the meatballs in an oven proof dish and top with tomato sauce. Cover and heat in  oven until warmed through.

Thanks Vasilis!
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10 thoughts on “Saucy Greek Threesome: Meatballs, Risotto and Saganaki

  1. Emily @ culinarycorrespondence.com November 13, 2015 at 5:17 pm Reply

    Hey Mom!

    So I drooled when I read your title… And drooled throughout the recipes. This looks unbelievably delicious. I’m going to give the meatballs a try this week. I might serve it over wholewheat spaghetti. Wow mom. I miss Greece!!! 😦

  2. Jan November 14, 2015 at 2:55 pm Reply

    Us too, apparently it’s lovely and warm again there-people back in summer clothes, swimming etc.

  3. Beth @ Culinary Correspondence November 15, 2015 at 11:52 am Reply

    Wow, looks like you guys had a deliciously productive time in Vasilis’ kitchen!

    Everything looks sublime and it really makes me want to get back to Milos asap. I have a couple of questions for you:

    1) I would take out the garlic before blending the sauce right?

    2) How many cans of tomato do I need to sub in for the fresh? Would I include the juice from the cans as well?

    I desperately want to try making some vegan balls to go with sauce.. will let you know how it goes!

    xoxo

  4. Jan November 15, 2015 at 2:35 pm Reply

    Hey Beth,
    Good questions!
    1) The garlic: you can take it out-or since it’s cooked just swirl it around with everything else. If you are going to leave it in you don’t need to put the toothpicks in in the first place. Vasilis says the garlic taste is more subtle if you put it in whole and raw.
    2) The cans: well now that would depend on the size of the cans-ha, ha.It’s hard for me to say, because the ones I buy are chopped-but I would guess 4 cans/jars. For sure leave the juice in. If it seems too watery just cook it down a little longer.
    Good luck with the vegan meatballs-that will be interesting and I’m sure you will find a way to make them delicious.

  5. Hanin November 17, 2015 at 11:20 am Reply

    Kalimera Jan,
    Your post reminded me of all the great memories (especially culinary memories) we all have in Milos,
    What a great place it is!
    This looks absolutely delicious! I had no idea a tomato sauce could be that complex!
    I am sure it tastes delicious – and I know my Norah surely looooooves Tomato sauce 🙂

    I love Aubergine too… Man do I miss pasta and rice!
    It is not very easy following my program – but I keep all your recipes in mind for when I am done! I will be then able to adapt them so they can fit my new lifestyle 🙂

    I cannot wait to have the Orange Filo Cake recipe… Is that the one we once had in the restaurant near Gialos?
    It was delicious 🙂

    Efkharisto polli for sharing this little part of Greece 🙂
    Bisous,

  6. Jan November 18, 2015 at 4:20 pm Reply

    About those meatballs in tomato sauce-in Greece we have them as is-no pasta. They would be good with green beans on the side. Good luck with the program. You sure sound motivated. Orange filo cake is toooooooo easy-but his recipe always gets burned on top. I am trying to see what I can do about that before I post it.

  7. vasilia papikinos November 19, 2015 at 5:10 pm Reply

    Fantastic day fantastic course fantastic student fantastic food fantastic description…by Jan….thanks Jan love much

  8. Emily @ culinarycorrespondence.com November 20, 2015 at 5:59 pm Reply

    Mom- I made the meatballs. I used pork instead and no peppers (no good looking peppers out there). I did a version of the tomato sauce- I had to use passata as it’s the only tomatoes I can get not out of a can. So- overall- DELICIOUS. I made spaghetti squash to go with it and I was in heaven last night. It makes a lot- so I’m looking forward to eating MORE tonight and tomorrow. THANKS!!! 🙂

  9. Jan November 21, 2015 at 11:17 am Reply

    Em, I am so happy you tried these….and good to know that the recipe works with pork as well. Why not freeze some so you’re not eating the same thing for days on end?

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