I have several recipes to share from Christopher Kimball’s wonderful book, Milk Street.
This recipe used several genius techniques. The first was using a French technique, panade, which incorporates a bread and dairy paste into meat to bind it together and keep it moist during cooking. These meatballs were incredibly tender as a result. The author also uses the microwave to infuse oil with shallots, garlic, and spices- genius!
This recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef and substituted Greek yogurt for whole milk plain yogurt. I really loaded the pita bread halves with meatballs, sauce, and toppings making them essentially knife and fork “sandwiches.” These meatballs would also be wonderful served over rice with a green salad. Delicious!
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 with 1 1/2 cups sauce
For the Meatballs:
- 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- one 8-inch pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)
- 1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves (1 ounce), finely chopped
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey or beef
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the Lime-Yogurt Sauce:
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
- 3 T tahini
- 3 T lime juice
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 to 3 pita bread rounds, halved
- tomato slices
- cucumber slices
- red onion slices
- fresh mint or parsley leaves
- lime-yogurt sauce
To Make the Meatballs:
- In a small bowl, stir together 2 T of the oil, the shallot, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano. Microwave until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the pita bread, yogurt, and water. Use your hands to mash the mixture to a smooth paste. Add the reserved oil mixture, the minute, ground meat, salt and pepper. User your hands to thoroughly mix.
- Divide the mixture into 12 portions, then use your hands to roll each into a smooth ball. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- In a 12 or 14-inch skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium to medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add half of the meatballs, and, using a spatula press them into 1/2-inch thick patties.
- Cook over medium, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the meatballs are well browned on both sides and register 140 degrees F at the center, about 4 min on the first side and 2 minutes after flipping.
- Transfer to a platter and tent with foil. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.
To Make the Sauce:
- Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.
- Fill half of a pita bread pocket with 2-3 meatballs.
- Top with sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red onion, herbs, and sauce, as desired.