Kefte/kofte recipe

I went to get meat at Sendiks because I was creeped out by the filthy conditions at Metro Market (I’m sure I will get over that but I was really impressed with Sendiks, I haven’t been there for meat in years) and besides turkey thighs, they had ground lamb. Kefte time!! Perfect diet food. No carbs. (or gluten, dairy, or, for that matter, alcohol). And a personal favorite. Although, I had to eat it with lettuce tzatsiki (not that there is such a thing, but it was OK) because real tzatsiki is made with yogurt and I have had no diary this month.

It’s really kind of a process but easily done in a processor. It helps that the proportions are practically irrelevant. For that matter the ingredients are pretty imaginary too. Ground meat. Some green herbs and the North African spices and, bam. To quote that idiot Emeril. In the event, I also needed spices so this occasioned a trip to the Spice House (love that place) something I’d do more often if parking wasn’t an issue. There’s also their arcane method of labeling everything by hand and writing out each and every receipt. Shoot me. It took longer to buy the spices than it did to make these.

Like bolognese sauce, get out the processor and it will be over before you can spell kofte, if you can spell it.

Recipe follows



Kefte/kofte recipe

Adapted hideously loosely from Cook’s Complicated, er, Illustrated

1.5 pounds of ground lamb 

Handfull each:

Cilantro, mint, parsley

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

1/4 ish walnuts

1 tsp each

ground coriander, cumin, cardamom

Cumin seeds, caraway seeds

1 packet gelatin

Salt/ pepper

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

1 onion

1 small can tomato paste

cup or so of chicken broth, red wine, whatever

1/4 tsp cinnamon 

Get out that food processor

Pulse the herbs to small bits, not a paste, put in bowl

Pulse the nuts to pieces, put in same bowl

Pulse the garlic to bits, then the onions, ditto on the bowl

Heat up the sices in a dry frying pan to bring out their flavor, or not. 

I don’t care. Put them in that bowl too, tempered (the dry hot pan thing) or not.

Put 1/2 of the lamb in the processor and 1/2 of the crap in the bowl in it, too.

Sprinkle the gelatin over it all, add salt and pepper

and process until it’s just incorporated. 

Take that out and hand mix with the rest of the meat and the stuff in the bowl. 

Personally I hate getting my hands in there. 

But you gotta, and you have to get your hands into it twice 

because you have to shape them as well.

Let the mixture chill for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425

In the meantime, cut up the peppers into strips, and the onion into wedges and caramelize them

Add the tomato paste and caramelize, now add the stock or wine or whatever.

Add the cinnamon salt and pepper. 

Make the kefte logs (more hand-mixing/shaping) and roast 15 minutes

and dump into the sauce. Let simmer at least 30 minutes. 

Serve with Tzatsiki. You can look that recipe up yourself. This was hard enough to type up.


North African meatballs. I’m not sure how I happen to be on the North African thing. It coincided with an issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Everything in my life seems to revolve around some sort of issue. This one being a cooking magazine well known for its vexing recipes.

Anyway, I knew it called for ground lamb, onions, garlic and many spices. I did not check out actual ingredients before I shopped so I neglected to get the mint (I have oceans of it at my cottage where I had spent the afternoon), pine nuts (who cares they don’t taste like anything) or parsley (had some, a little yellowing). Metro Market had organic, grass fed, free range ground lamb. Who knew??

I also didn’t have the requisite yogurt for the sauce, then I saw some bottled ranch dressing. Good enough is good enough.

These babies whipped up in 20 minutes and were easy enough to clean up after. Except for the food processor but that just goes in the dishwasher. After an hour in the refrigerator, they grilled up in 12 to 15 minutes. I threw a side of jalapeƱos onto the plate. Delicious hockey pucks. I have to figure out how to soften them.

And I am still burping up garlic, even as we speak.