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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

40 minutes

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Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Free

These Greek cigar-shaped meatballs are known as soutzoukakia smyrneika. The spicing reflects the dish’s origins in Smyrna, a former Greek settlement and now the Turkish city of Izmir. Soutzoukakia often are made with beef or a combination of beef and pork, but we preferred the subtle sweetness and tender texture of all-pork meatballs. An instant thermometer is the best way to check for doneness; alternatively, cut open a meatball—if done, the center should no longer be pink. Soutzoukakia often is served with tiganites patates (potatoes fried in olive oil), but roasted potatoes, crusty bread or a rice or orzo pilaf also are delicious accompaniments.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t skip the step of allowing the breadcrumbs to hydrate for 5 minutes. The softened crumbs, called panade, help create a soft, tender texture in the meatballs.

40 minutes

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1 pound ground pork
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 medium garlic cloves, 2 finely grated, 1 thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons honey
Ingredients
  • ½

    cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1

    pound ground pork

  • 2

    teaspoons ground cumin

  • 3

    medium garlic cloves, 2 finely grated, 1 thinly sliced

  • ¾

    teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided

  • 2

    tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano, divided

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 1

    28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2

    teaspoons honey

Directions
  1. 01
    In a medium bowl, combine the panko, egg and ½ cup water, then mix until homogeneous. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the panko to hydrate. Add the pork, cumin, the grated garlic, ½ teaspoon pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon oregano, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper, then mix well. Divide into 12 portions (each about a scant ¼ cup), then shape each into a 2½-inch-long cigar shape.
  2. 02
    In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook without disturbing until browned on the bottoms, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the meatballs and cook until browned on the second sides, another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.
  3. 03
    Return the skillet to medium-high and add the sliced garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and starting to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, cinnamon, honey and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper, then bring to a simmer. Place the meatballs in the pan and return to a simmer. Cover and simmer, undisturbed, until the centers of the meatballs reach 160°F, 12 to 14 minutes.
  4. 04
    Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to serving dish. Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano.
Tip: Don’t skip the step of allowing the breadcrumbs to hydrate for 5 minutes. The softened crumbs, called panade, help create a soft, tender texture in the meatballs.
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Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

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4

Servings

40 minutes

Tip

Don’t skip the step of allowing the breadcrumbs to hydrate for 5 minutes. The softened crumbs, called panade, help create a soft, tender texture in the meatballs.

Ingredients
  • ½

    cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1

    pound ground pork

  • 2

    teaspoons ground cumin

  • 3

    medium garlic cloves, 2 finely grated, 1 thinly sliced

  • ¾

    teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided

  • 2

    tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano, divided

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 1

    28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2

    teaspoons honey

Step 1 of 4

Form Meatballs

½
cup panko breadcrumbs
1
large egg
½
cup water
1
pound ground pork
2
teaspoons ground cumin
2
finely grated medium garlic cloves
½
teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
1
tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
¾
teaspoon kosher salt
½
teaspoon black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the panko, egg and ½ cup water, then mix until homogeneous.


Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the panko to hydrate.


Add the pork, cumin, the grated garlic, ½ teaspoon pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon oregano, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper, then mix well.


Divide into 12 portions (each about a scant ¼ cup), then shape each into a 2½-inch-long cigar shape.

Step 2 of 4

Cook Meatballs

In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.


Add the meatballs and cook without disturbing until browned on the bottoms, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the meatballs and cook until browned on the second sides, another 2 to 3 minutes.


Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.

Step 3 of 4

Make Sauce

1
thinly sliced medium garlic clove
¼
teaspoon pepper flakes
1
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
½
teaspoon ground cinnamon
2
teaspoons honey
¼
teaspoon kosher salt
¼
teaspoon black pepper

Return the skillet to medium-high and add the sliced garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and starting to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.


Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


Stir in the tomatoes, cinnamon, honey and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper, then bring to a simmer.


Place the meatballs in the pan and return to a simmer. Cover and simmer, undisturbed, until the centers of the meatballs reach 160°F, 12 to 14 minutes.

Step 4 of 4

Taste Sauce

1
tablespoon oregano
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper.


Transfer the meatballs and sauce to serving dish.


Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano.

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