I love social media. It’s a great way to “meet” like-minded people from all over the world. I’ve created friendships with people as far away as the Netherlands, and have found people who enjoy my love of food in the town right next to mine. Without the fabulous World Wide Web, I never would have crossed paths with these amazing people in the ordinary course of my day.
That’s where I met my friend Christina. It doesn’t matter that she’s young enough to be my daughter (I know I look 39 – kidding!), Christina is Italian and lives in the near west suburbs of Chicago, in a predominantly Italian neighborhood.
She recently tried out for MasterChef in their latest round of auditions in Chicago, and while she didn’t make it to the next round, she did make amazing looking Greek meatballs – with feta cheese in the middle no less – yum!
She cooks much like my late husband cooked “a little of this, a little of that.” So when I asked her for the recipe, she gave me this insight:
“I used ground sirloin and ground pork. I made two batches so telling you both sorta and what worked better. Meat in a bowl and for second batch which was way better I soaked my Italian breadcrumbs with whole milk.”
“Egg, oregano, mint! Definitely do this if you have . . . I did dried and made such a difference in the second batch. Lemon juice and rind. Must for me too! Garlic cloves minced. I usually do onions in my balls no matter what kind because I like the texture, but you hate onions so disregard.” (She knows me so well already – I am probably the only cook out there who hates cooking with onions – and don’t tell me to caramelize them because that will just make me want to throw up in my mouth). I also am not a fan of fresh mint – tastes like I just brushed my teeth – but please add it if you like it!
“First batch I pan fried and liked the sear, but I like baking them at 400 even better and flip about half way and the crust and color that you get.”
Mind you, I am copying this from text messages back and forth, but you realize that some cooks go by taste, feel, etc., while I am of the camp that I want to know exactly how much of this, how long to cook, etc.
So with her “instructions” in mind, I made these Greek Meatballs with Homemade Naan.
For the meatballs:
8 ounces ground beef (I used 85/15)*
8 ounces ground turkey breast
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ cup feta cheese
Mix everything together. Take a tiny pinch (about the size of a marble) and cook one off and taste it for seasoning. It’s the biggest tip I learned while working at The Chopping Block – taste as you go! I was notorious for not tasting anything until I was done, and then it would be too late to add more seasoning if necessary.
*If you use ground pork in place of the turkey breast, use ground sirloin – the balance will give you enough fat so the meatballs aren’t dry. If you do use the turkey breast like I did, use a fattier ground beef (i.e. 85/15). If you were to combine leaner ground sirloin with the turkey breast, the meatballs will be dry as well.
I got 16, one ounce meatballs out of that recipe above. Feel free to make them bigger if you like. Once I portioned out the meatballs, I pressed flat and placed about a teaspoon of feta cheese in the middle, then formed the meat into a ball, keeping the feta cheese in the middle.
Heat a non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet with a touch of grape seed oil, and sear all sides for about 3-4 minutes. Since mine were small, I simply browned for 4 minutes, then removed them from the heat and put a lid on my pan and let them sit off the heat for 10 minutes. They cooked through and were super tender.
You can get the recipe for my homemade naan here on my blog.
For this naan recipe I kicked it up a notch and rolled fresh garlic, poppy seeds and cilantro into the dough before pan frying. So good!
Garnish your meatball naan with tzatziki, chopped onion (I won’t judge!), jarred roasted red pepper and cilantro. Not only are these great in a sandwich, you could also make these for a happy hour – just stick with toothpicks and place tzatziki in a bowl – yum!
If you love this type of street food, check out our class at Lincoln Square:
7PM - 9:30PM
If learning how to bake bread is more your style, check out this class at Lincoln Square:
10am – 1PM
If you want to be a better cook of meat, check out our class at the Merchandise Mart:
6PM - 9PM
I’d love to hear about any social media food connections you’ve made. Let me know in the comments.