Mpiftekia are Greek burgers. They are larger than a meatball or “keftedes” and are often shaped into hamburger shapes and grilled, barbecued or baked. Sometimes the meat is placed around a souvlaki stick and grilled as you would a souvlaki.
Different parts of Greece cook them differently. Some parts of Greece stuff them with cheese and a variety of vegetables. Others simply season them, add some herbs and eat them like a hamburger in pita bread with tzatziki, tomato and salad.
When mixing the ingredients the mixture must be moist and not too dry. If the mince is less fatty, more moisture needs to be added to the meat, so that they do not dry out when baked. Grated onion and tomato are ideal for adding moisture.
You can use beef, pork or lamb mince or a combination for this dish. You can also add potatoes to this dish. In addition, you can flatten the burgers to form hamburger patties and grill them on each side.
½ Vienna loaf or round country-style sourdough bread (or ½ cup breadcrumbs)
1kg extra lean beef mince
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large red onion, grated
1 cup continental parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp dry oregano
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tomatoes, puréed
100g kasseri cheese, grated
Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 lemon, cut in wedges
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Remove the crust from the bread and discard. Soak the bread in some water, then squeeze it until all the water has drained out of it.
Place the bread in a large bowl. Add the mince, garlic, onion, parsley, cumin, oregano, olive oil, eggs, tomato puree, cheese, sea salt and cracked pepper.
Using your hands, mix the ingredients together to ensure they all combine.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (They hold better if you refrigerate the mixture.)
Shape the meat so that you form medium-sized oval balls. Repeat this process until you have used up all the meat mixture. In between making each one, dip your hand in water so that the meat does not stick to your hands as you roll it.
Place the meat balls in a baking dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Add some cold water at the bottom of the baking dish to just cover the base.
Cook the meat balls for 1-1¼ hours or until they are golden brown. Halfway through the cooking process turn them over so that are browned on all sides.
Serve hot with the lemon wedges.
©2012 Maria Benardis