Soutzoukakia – meatballs in tomato sauce with cinnamon and cumin

It’s another one from my new Rick Stein cookbook – I seem to be on a bit of a roll with that book at the moment. I love a meatball (no sniggering at the back there!) and so when I had Neil over for dinner, and some Victoria Wood goodness, on Saturday evening, it seemed like a good opportunity to give this recipe a go. I paired it with the same pilaf rice recipe that I had cooked on Friday, as the recipe said to serve it with rice, and that worked rather well.

I may have made the balls a bit bigger than the recipe intended as it said that the amount listed would make 20-24 balls, whereas I only managed 16, but that was fine – they all cooked through ok anyway. The recipe, apparently originally comes from Thessaloniki and the cinnamon and cumin do give the dish a different flavour from other meatball recipes I’ve tried.

Serves 4

For the meatballs:

500g of minced beef
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
½ a teaspoon of ground cumin
½ a teaspoon of dried oregano
½ a teaspoon of salt
2 slices of stale white bread, soaked in red wine and squeezed dry
12 turns of black pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
150ml of red wine
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
500ml of passata
½ a teaspoon of salt
12 turns of black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients for the meatballs, except for the olive oil, together in a large bowl. Mix well until thoroughly combined and then shape into 20-24 rugby ball shaped meatballs.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, over a medium-high heat, and fry the meatballs in batches if necessary, until golden all over. (you will need to turn them regularly to avoid sticking.)

Once cooked set the meatballs aside whilst you make the sauce.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heaty. Add the onions, garlic, cumin, sugar and cinnamon stick, and sweat the onions for 10 minutes or so, until soft.

Add the red wine, increase the heat to bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to medium again.

Add the tomato purée an passata, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 20 minutes or so, until thickened. (I find it helpful to pop a lid on as the passata does tend to splash a bit – you don’t want to be constantly wiping the hob and walls…)

Add the fried meatballs, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until cooked through. Keep an eye on the sauce and add a little extra water or red wine if it starts to thicken too much.

Remove the cinnamon stick and serve!

P1060954 ed


About neilche

Hi. My name's Neil. I live in Brighton with my flatmate (also Neil) and I work as a Librarian at a local college. I like cooking, eating and socialising with friends. Which is what prompted me to start this blog. I cycle everywhere around town - it helps to work off the calories!
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