Monday, October 18, 2021

Veal biftekia (Greek meat patties) with koulouri and tzatziki

Nothing beats a nice, charred and juicy Greek bifteki (meat patty) for dinner, any day of the week, especially when you serve it on top of a sliced, homemade koulouri (Greek, sesame-coated bread ring) and some refreshing, pungent tzatziki

 

 

Last week, while shopping at a large super market that oftentimes carries unusual and rare vegetables and fruits, I came across a basket full of wild garlic. Wild garlic, this time of the year! I couldn’t believe it. Don’t know where it was from, but I couldn’t resist getting it because I adore wild garlic. I used it in the beef patties, but since it’s not in season now and even when it is it’s difficult to find in many places, you can substitute with regular garlic. I also used it in the tzatziki, the recipe for which can be found here and of course, the bread rings recipe is here

 





Veal and wild garlic* biftekia (Greek meat patties) with koulouri and tzatziki 

Needless to say that the quality of the veal you use is key in the flavor of the biftekia. Buy ground veal with some fat in it as it will give your biftekia extra flavor but not too much fat as they will be too greasy and heavy. Also, what’s important in the final flavor and texture is the proper mixing of the ingredients and the resting of the mixture in the fridge. 

You can make great souvlakia with these biftekia too. Just shape them into longer ovals, put them inside a Greek pita, add tzatziki, tomato and onions, or your own favorite ingredients, and dig in.

*As mentioned above, you can substitute the wild garlic for regular garlic since it's not in season now.

 


Yield: 9 small-ish biftekia or 4 large ones

Ingredients 

for the biftekia (meat patties) 

500 g ground veal 

2 red onions (about 110 g net weight)

1 large handful flat-leaf parsley

3 wild garlic leaves (with stems attached) or 1 garlic clove

1 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper) or hot chilli flakes

1 tsp sweet paprika

¼ tsp Greek dried oregano

Freshly ground black pepper, 20 turns of the pepper mill

1 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp olive oil, for cooking

to serve

tzatziki (you can substitute the wild garlic in the recipe with 2 garlic cloves)

koulouria/simitia (Greek bread rings)

lemon

tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

 

Preparation

In a small food processor, add the onion, garlic and parsley and finely chop. Add all the ingredients for the biftekia, except the oil, in a medium-sized bowl that fits in your fridge, and mix very well, kneading the mixture for 5-6 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the fridge for 2 hours.

Shape the patties. Give them an oval shape and then flatten slightly the tops.

 

Heat a frying pan well over medium-high heat. Okay, now I gotta talk about something. Frying pans. Not all are created equal. Even though I use from time to time non stick pans, like Tefal, I tend to avoid them for two reasons. First, because they are harmful to our health and second, because as far as meat (chicken, steak, offal, patties) mushrooms and tofu is concerned, they can’t cook them well. How well a pan conducts and retains heat is dependent upon the material the pan is made of and of course this affects cooking. For example, copper heats up super fast and also gets cold super fast once off the heat. Iron/cast iron on the other hand takes a bit of time to heat up but retains that heat well after it has been taken off the heat. Carbon steel pans heat up quickly and retain heat well after they have been taken off the heat. Also, whether or not a pan has the ability to create a natural patina, like iron and steel pans do, is crucial in the final flavor and texture of the cooked meat. You are familiar with the Maillard reaction, no? If not, you can read about it here.

So the pan I use is a carbon steel pan with a beeswax layer by de Buyer (Mineral B model), which creates a non stick patina with time and cooks better than any other pan I have ever used, including my beloved yet hardly used anymore le Creuset cast iron pan. Also, the double sided grill/griddle from le Creuset, which I have been using for maaaany years, especially for making pork souvlakia is also excellent for cooking meat patties. I prefer, however, the de Buyer pan as it is less heavy (talking about the small one here; the larger one I have is almost as heavy as the Creuset griddle, if not heavier). Ugh! Let's get back to the recipe. As soon as the pan heats up, lower the heat to medium and add the olive oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the patties and cook to your liking. I like them well cooked, so for small-ish patties, I cook them for 7 minutes per side.

serve the dish

Cut the bread rings lengthwise, place the biftekia on top so the bread soaks up the juices and becomes even more delicious, add the tzatziki and tomatoes and squeeze lots of lemon juice over the patties.

Dig in and enjoy!

 

 


 

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