The theme for the 11th week of Tessa Kiros' recipes at I Heart Cooking Club was "A Study in Scarlet." More precisely, this is what was on the IHCC site for the week: "Red fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants which help fight heart disease and cancer and could help reduce the risk for stroke and the leading cause of blindness in older people, macular degeneration. Even lean red meats are a nutrient-dense protein and a source of iron, zinc, and minerals including vitamin B12, niacin, and vitamin B6."
My guys love red meat, no doubt about it, while they put up with chicken and fish and seafood nicely, if they are requesting things around here in the protein department, it is always red meat. I didn't have any trouble finding a "red" recipe for this week's theme, not only with the red meat, but with the rich red tomato sauce that accompanies it. Meatballs are a favorite and in Tessa's book Food From Many Greek Kitchens, I found a nice new take on the meatball using cumin in the mixture. These were really good, different from what we normally have by way of meatballs, and are definitely on the list for things to make again. Yep, a nice new take on an old favorite.
Soutzoukakia (Cumin Meatballs in Tomato)
3.5 ounces of crustless bread, about 3 slices, torn up
3/4 cup of milk
1 pound 9 ounces of ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons of chopped Italian parsley
3 garlic cloves, 1 whole, 2 finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 14-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
Put the bread into a bowl, cover with the milk and leave it for about 10 minutes to soak and soften.
In another bowl put the beef, egg, cumin, parsley, chopped garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze out excess milk from the bread and add the bread to the beef. Mix in very well with a wooden spoon and then with your hands. Form into meatballs of about 1-3/4 ounces each. Line them up on a tray.
Heat 3 Tablespoons of the olive oil in a nonstick pot, add the whole clove of garlic, and when it begins to smell good, add the tomatoes. Season with salt and a little pepper, put the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes or so, smoothing out any lumpy pieces. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large nonstick skillet that has a lid.
Add the soutzoukakia (they should all just fit if you have a big skillet). Cook until golden all over, gently turning them with tons or by flicking the pan sharply from your wrist if you can manage. When they are nice and gently browned, add the wine and cook for 5-6 minutes on high heat, until it reduces. Scrape the tomato sauce over the meatballs and bring it to a gentle boil. Lower the heat slightly, put the lid on and simmer for about 20 minutes. Shuffle the skillet once or twice to make sure nothing is sticking. There should be a good amount of sauce at the end.
Remove from the heat. Leave with the lid on for a few minutes or so before serving.