Todd and I get together with a group of friends on a regular basis to cook, and last night our theme was Greek food. We each take a recipe or two, and all the needed ingredients, to one person's house, and then we prepare a meal together. Last night we had haloumi, a Greek salad, spinach pie, meatballs with bulgur, baklava, ambrosia, lemonade, coffee and the only dry Greek wine at our local wine shop. I made the lemonade and meatballs.
I had to partially prepare the meatballs ahead because the mixture has to sit for at least an hour, and up to four, before you form it into balls. I think it's because you add 1/2 cup dry coarse bulgur to the mixture, and the bulgur needs time to soak up moisture from the meat and other meatball ingredients. (I bought the bulgur bulk from a little place I found last week across 9th Ave from Port Authority. I think it's called International Food Shop or something like that, and it has all kinds of bulk bins of spices and grains in addition to olives and a load of other stuff, cheap.)
To make the meatball mixture, I combined 1 pound total ground sirloin, pork and veal with the bulgur, 4 finely minced small scallions, about 1 cup parsley, minced, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspoon cumin and salt and pepper to taste. That's what has to sit in the refrigerator for an hour.
Then you form them into meatballs (mine were a bit bigger than 1 tablespoon each) and put them back in the fridge while you make the sauce: Sautee 1 onion, cut in half and sliced into half-moons, until their soft and getting brown. Add 2 chopped cloves garlic and stir a bit, then 1/2 cup dry red wine, letting it bubble for about a minute. Then 2 cups "grated" tomatoes (this was a great trick; you grate the tomatoes on the large holes of a grater, and you only get the pulp and seeds, not the skin) and 1 cinnamon stick. Add the meatballs, bring it back to a boil, add 1/2 cup water, and simmer 20 minutes until they're done. The note on the recipe said they'll still be red when you cut into them, and mine were pink in places (I think I read somewhere that it has something to do with a chemical in the onions?).
The recipe didn't say anything about letting them sit off the heat for about 10 minutes, but that's what I ended up doing last night (the baklava was being assembled on the dining room table, so we had to wait), and I think it was key to the flavor. When they were first done cooking, they were kind of bland and sitting in quite a bit of the sauce. I salted them up a bit and left them to sit. When we were ready to eat, they had soaked up a lot more of the juice and the flavor had improved dramatically. Sprinkled parsley on top so it'd be pretty.
Lemonade was easy: Simmered 1 1/2 cups each water and sugar until sugar dissolved, added 2 cups lemon juice (took me about 12 lemons) and a thinly sliced lemon, and then added cold water to taste.
It was all good, and we even had a little taste of walnut-honey heaven to bring home with us and snack on today.