Welcome to our Kitchen. Turkish people love to eat and something they love more than eating the food is the offering of the food. It is an important and delicious part of a Turkish culture. From the freshest produce to the most hospitable people, Turkish cuisine is in a league of its own.
Today, we’re going to be making a fun and tasty delicious array of dishes, my favorite growing up home-styled cooking. For our main entrée will be the Kofte. The Kofte is basically a Turkish Meatball, if you want to put it that way. Along with our Kofte, we’re going to be making a side dish known as the Chickpea Pilaf or Nohutlu Pilav. And as our appetizer, we’ll be making the Shepherd’s Salad or Coban Salatasi which many of you may already know.
So for starters, we’re going to do our Kofte and prepare that. We’re going to do 1 pound of ground beef, salt and pepper of course to taste, half a teaspoon of red pepper, one teaspoon of allspice, half a bunch of parsley, one egg for moisture and an onion that we’re going to grate.
Over here, we have some stale bread that I’ve been soaking in water that is essential to the moisture of the Kofte. Now, if you don’t have the bread, that’s okay. You can use a half of a cup of breadcrumbs, plain is preferable, not the seasoned kind.
We’re going to take our parsley like this, just half a bunch is okay because we only have one pound of beef, and we’re going to start chopping. It doesn’t have to be a fine chop. You can use lamb with this as well. Sometimes, people like to do half and half, you could do a half of a pound of lamb, half of a pound of beef and that gives the Kofte a really great flavor.
Now once you’re done chopping your parsley, you could pour it in your pan. This is a wide circle like pan that I use when I make my Kofte. It is traditionally used in Turkey because it’s really great when you want to knead and mix the meat mixture. You can use the bowl as well, you don’t have to use this. Over here, we have our bread that has been soaking in water. We’re going to take our bread and just squeeze the water out and then put it just in the mixture like so. And then we’ll take our onion and start grating it in there. Onion is best grated because this way you don’t get any of the feeling of the onion but you still get the great taste. So we’ll just do that like this.
So that’s done like that and then we can start mixing all of our other ingredients. Our egg, that’s great. Now once all of these ingredients are in, you’re going to pound and knead the mixture for about 2-3 minutes. It’s very important to mix the mixture well. All Kofte in Turkey needs to be mixed and pounded together.
Now the reason I use this big flat pan is because it gives me more surface area to pound and knead the meat. You have to pick it up and slap it, this allows the meat to adhere to the ingredients. Make your hands into fists and just pound all the air out of the meat. Now many Kofte, you have to knead the meat. One Kofte that is very popular in Turkey is called Chi Kofte which is a raw Kofte, kind of like a tartar if you will. You’ll have to knead the meat for like 20-30 minutes.
So growing up, my mom always let my sister and I knead the meat because we loved it. We love doing this. It was just so much fun and it really is fun. You should try it. Just take it and slap. Just make sure that before you do all these that you wash and dry your hands as I have done with mine because cleanliness is very important in a Turkish kitchen as in all kitchens. Remember, you are feeding your family and your loved ones so keep it clean.
Now, we’re going to mold our little meatballs into shapes. I made them flat on the platter which is very easy to do. I’m going to show you how to do it. You’re going to section off in small portions with little balls of meat. Roll them up like a log and then mold flat with your hand. So a great trick for this is if your hands are pretty dry, mine aren’t, if they are, you can dip your finger in a little bit of olive oil or some water to help get the meat rolling off your hands. So we’re just going to do that.
Now, we’re going to grill this on a non-stick pan. But if you want to fry them, now would be the time to pack them in flour front and back.