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Soutzoukakia - Yiayia's Spiced Meatballs in Sauce from Smyrni

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Soutzoukakia - Yiayia's Spiced Meatballs in Sauce from Smyrni

Soutzoukakia Smyrnaika

Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan
The word soutzoukaki (soo-tzoo-KAH-kyah) comes from the Turkish "soutzouk" or sausage. These meatballs are shaped like little kebabs. The are lightly fried and then bathed in a wine-sweetened tomato sauce. They hail from Smyrni or modern day Izmir, and the spices are more Turkish than Greek, however they have been adopted by most Greeks as a traditional favorite.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 lb. loaf of crusty white bread with crusts removed
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable or corn oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet red wine, such as Mavrodaphne
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preparation:

In a medium sized bowl, soak the bread with water and then add 1/2 cup of sweet wine. Let the bread absorb the liquid for a few minutes. Squeeze out the liquid from the bread, crumble it and add to the ground meat mixture.

Add the garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and eggs. Mix well and incorporate all the ingredients. To roll, take portions of meat about the size of a large walnut and form sausage like rolls about 4 inches long and about 1½ inches thick.

Heat about an inch of vegetable oil in a skillet and carefully add the soutzoukakia to the pan. Fry them until lightly browned on all sides. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

While the soutzoukakia are frying, you can prepare the sauce in a Dutch oven. Add a 1/4 cup of olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato sauce, sugar, and cinnamon and remaining cup of wine as well as a can full of water.

Boil the sauce on a medium high heat until some of the water has evaporated and the sauce has thickened. When all the soutzoukakia are fried, add them to the sauce, heat to a boil, and then remove from the heat. Allow them to absorb the sauce to become tender before serving.

Serve with potato puree, rice pilaf, or fried potatoes.

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