Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

This flavor-packed weeknight dish was included in Milk Street Magazine’s “Tuesday Nights” series which features weeknight dishes with bold and fresh flavors. I have found that meatballs that incorporate a panade, hydrated breadcrumbs, are very tender- great.

The recipe was adapted from Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Calvin Cox. According to the original article, these Greek oblong shaped meatballs are known as soutzoukakia smyrneika. Traditionally, they are served with tiganites patates (potatoes fried in olive oil). We ate them with crusty bread to sop up every bit of sauce. The dish could also be served with roasted potatoes or a rice or orzo pilaf.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 large garlic cloves, 2 finely gratedn(I used a garlic press), 1 thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the panko, egg and 1/2 cup water, then mix until homogeneous. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the panko to hydrate. (This step is very important in order to create soft and tender meatballs.)
  2. Add the pork, cumin, the grated (or pressed) garlic, 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon oregano, 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, then mix well.
  3. Divide into 11 or 12 portions (each about a scant 1/4 cup), then shape each into a 2 1/2-inch-long cigar (oblong) shape.
  4. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. (Non-stick can be used; I used a 12-inch stainless all-in-one pan.)
  5. Add the meatballs and cook without disturbing until browned on the bottoms, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the meatballs and cook until browned on the second sides, another 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.
  7. Return the skillet to medium-high and add the sliced garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and starting to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  9. Stir in the tomatoes, cinnamon, honey and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, then bring to a simmer.
  10. Place the meatballs in the pan and return to a simmer. Cover and simmer, undisturbed, until the centers of the meatballs reach 160°F, 12 to 14 minutes.
  11. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  12. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to serving dish. Drizzle with additional oil, if desired, and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano.

Chicken Paprikash with Buttered Egg Noodles

I have another saucy chicken dish to share. 🙂 My husband has very fond memories of eating Chicken Paprikash during his childhood, so I jumped at trying this version. The cream perfectly balances the spice in the sauce. It’s a great comfort food dish.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, increased the garlic, and used crème fraîche instead of sour cream in the sauce. I also incorporated some smoked paprika. We ate it with roasted asparagus on the side.

  • ½ cup sour cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 16-ounces (2 cups) canned crushed tomatoes (from a 28 oz can)
  • 12 ounces egg noodles
  • ½ cup parsley leaves with tender stems, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 300°, preferably on convection. (I roasted the asparagus first and then reduced the temperature.)
  2. Take creme fraiche (or sour cream or yogurt) out of fridge—it needs to come to room temperature.
  3. Place chicken thighs on a plate and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Peel and chop the onion. Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your knife and peel.
  5. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Add 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil, swirl to melt.
  6. Using tongs, add chicken “skin side” down and cook, lifting up thighs once or twice to let rendered hot fat run underneath, until golden brown and crisp, 6-7 minutes. Transfer chicken skin side up to a plate.
  7. Reduce heat to low. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often to dissolve browned bits on bottom of skillet, until onions are translucent, 6–8 minutes.
  8. Add paprika and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, just until onions are evenly coated and spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds (the spices burn very easily, turning them bitter and chalky, so make sure to keep them moving in skillet and have can of tomatoes close at hand).
  9. Add tomatoes to skillet. Add 3/4 cup water and add to skillet. Stir until incorporated, season with several pinches of salt, and bring to a simmer.
  10. Using tongs, arrange thighs skin side up back in skillet (along with any accumulated juices), nestling into liquid but not submerging (you want the “skin side” to be exposed so it stays crispy).
  11. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until chicken is fully cooked and tender enough to release from the bone when prodded with a fork, 15-20 minutes, or until center of thickest part of the meat reaches 165 degrees.
  12. About halfway through chicken cook time in the oven, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook according to package instructions, stirring occasionally with tongs. Drain noodles in a colander.
  13. Transfer noodles to a large bowl, add remaining 2 T butter, and toss to coat until butter is melted and noodles are coated. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Add half of the finely chopped parsley to noodles; toss to coat.
  15. Carefully remove skillet from oven (handle will be hot!). Using tongs, transfer chicken skin side up to a clean plate.
  16. Taste sauce and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
  17. Spoon about ¼ cup sauce into a small bowl and stir in creme fraiche (sour cream or yogurt) until smooth (this slowly brings up the temperature of the sour cream so it doesn’t split when it hits the hot skillet). Pour back into skillet and stir to combine.
  18. Arrange chicken thighs and juices back in skillet and top with remaining chopped parsley. Serve over noodles. (I arranged the chicken and sauce over the noodles in a serving bowl and garnished with parsley.)

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