Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dutch Oven Greek Meatballs

This recipe is included in my Dutch oven cookbook, "Around the World in a Dutch Oven".

I actually made these a few weeks ago.  Jodi had bought me some ground lamb, and I’d been eager to try it.  I actually had struggled with trying to figure out what to do with it.  I’d looked all over the intarwebb looking for ideas, and finally found something I could adapt.

I leaned some things doing it.  In the end, it tasted good, but had a little edge of a burned flavor.  So, next time, I’m going to make some adjustments to the process.

Dutch Oven Greek Meatballs

12” dutch oven
15-18 coals below

  • 4 slices white bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced and minced
  • A bundle of fresh mint, chopped, without the stems
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 4 eggs

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging

  • Olive oil for frying

After getting some coals started, I started preparing the ingredients.  I tore the bread apart and put that in a bowl with the milk to soak.  I chopped up the garlic and the onions.  Finally, I added everything in that first set into a big bowl and stirred it all up.  I made sure it was all blended by mushing it together with my fingers.  I formed the mis into meatballs, about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter.

Then, I got the dutch oven on the coals, with a little bit of oil on the bottom. I let that heat up, but not too much, as I discovered.  I dredged the meatballs in the flour and dropped them into the dutch oven to start cooking.

Here’s where I would start doing it a little bit differently.  I would keep the heat a little more moderate, so that the meatballs cooked a little more slowly.  I turned them with some cooking tongs, from time to time.  I actually had to cook them in a couple of batches, because there wasn’t room in one dutch oven for them.  I put a few coals under a second 12” dutch oven (maybe 6-8 coals) and used it, with the lid on, as a warmer for the ones that were done.

Somewhere during the cooking of the second half of these, I put some rice on in my 8” dutch oven.  I put about a cup of rice in with about 2 cups of turkey broth.  I put that over about 10 coals. When it started steaming out the from under the lid, I let it cook for another ten minutes, then pulled it off and let it sit, covered for ten more.

While all this cooking was happening, I had an intriguing thought, to make a pan sauce out of all that delicious, crusty fond that had been building up on the bottom of the dutch oven.  So, once all of the meatballs were warming in the other oven, I set to making it in the original frying oven.  First, I poured in about a half cup of water, and about a lemon’s worth of juice.  It immediately began sizzling.  I took a wooden spoon and started scraping up the bits off the bottom of the dutch oven.  The acid in the lemon juice helped that significantly.  It only took a minute or two before all that crusty stuff was swimming in a bubbling broth.

I put in a bit of flour, shaking it in a little at a time, while stirring and whisking, to thicken it up.  Soon it was ready.  I put the meatballs from the warming pot back into the sauce, stirred it up, and served it over the rice.

It was delicious, except, as I said, for the slightly burned flavor.  I’m not sure if that edge came from the fond in the sauce or from the meatballs themselves.  It could have been either one.  But in either case, I think cooking it a little bit lower in heat would have done the trick.

From my dutch oven table to yours, here's more of what to cook in a dutch oven!


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