Greek Recipes with May Lerios: Soutzoukakia Smyrneika

A soutzoukaki is one of the meatballs you'll make; the plural is soutzoukakia. Smyrna is a city in Asia Minor that used to have a large, rich Greek community famed for its cuisine in the early 20th century; Smyrneika means "in the manner cooked in Smyrna". The Greek word soutzoukaki is actually a direct form of the Turkish word soujouk, which is a type of dry sausage: all that Greek adds is the standard Greek -aki ending meaning little one. So a soutzoukaki is literally a little sausage-looking meatball.

For 6 people

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On a cookie sheet, spread

Mix in a bowl:

Make sure the mixture is even and that the bread does not form small clusters. Form small oblong balls (like footballs) out of the meat mixture, each the size of a medium walnut, and roll them in flour. Washing your hands now will be a pain, so wipe the mixture off you hands with a paper towel before washing.

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Melt in a pot

Fry the balls slightly (until their surface is golden) in medium heat; it takes about one minute of frying per ball to get the desired color, and you'll probably have to fry them in batches of 6-8 balls. The goal is not to fry the balls completely (or they won't absorb the sauce below); it is simply to make them slightly more solid in preparation for the next step.

Once all balls are prepared, pour them all in the pot along with

Instead of white wine, you can use red wine (or a mix of the two) for a stronger flavor. Add some water, if necessary, to fully cover the soutzoukakia though, usually, the water in the tomato cans suffices; if you overdo it, just throw in some rice and cook it with the soutzoukakia. Bring the mixture to boil in med-hi heat; reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 45 minutes.

Serve hot with mashed potatoes (the tomato sauce in which the soutzoukakia cooks goes great over mashed potatoes). Rice or french fries also works. If you leave the pot on the stove for a long time to keep it hot, the top will form a crust; just stir it, and all will be well again.

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