Greek Meatballs Stuffed with Olives Makes about 27 meatballs 1 white potato (about ½ pound) One 1-inch-thick slice rustic bread ¾ pound lean ground beef ½...

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Makes about 27 meatballs

– 1 white potato (about ½ pound)

– One 1-inch-thick slice rustic bread

– ¾ pound lean ground beef

– ½ pound ground pork

– ½ cup finely chopped onion

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– 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

– 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed

– 1 egg, lightly beaten ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

– ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

– 2 tablespoons dried mint

– 27 pitted Greek green olives (see note)

– Olive or vegetable oil for frying

– ½ cup all-purpose flour for dredging

– Cocktail picks

1. Scrub and cut potato into quarters. Put into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a low boil. Cook about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and slice potato into a bowl. Mash well with the back of a fork.

2. Remove crust from bread; tear into large pieces and place in a small bowl. Cover with cold water and let soak 5 minutes. Squeeze out moisture and add to potatoes, mixing well. Add ground meats, onion, vinegar, fennel seeds, egg, salt, pepper and dried mint. Work with clean hands until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, up to 3 hours.

3. Form into 27 rough balls, using a heaping tablespoon of the mixture for each. Make an indentation in the center and push in the olive. Squeeze indentation closed and roll between the palms of your hands to shape into a ball.

4. In a large heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Dredge the meatballs in the flour. Place half in the hot oil and fry, turning, until lightly browned. Transfer to a large baking pan. (Use two pans if necessary to avoid crowding.) Repeat with another tablespoon oil and the remaining meatballs. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 18 minutes or until the meatballs test done.

5. Cool the meatballs, cover and refrigerate. To reheat, remove from refrigerator 1 hour before heating. Place in a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and heat in a 275-degree oven for 25 minutes. Transfer to a chafing dish and serve.

Note: If possible, use Greek olives flavored with lemon or garlic, or stuffed with almonds or cheese.

From “Meze: Small Plates to Savor and Share from the Mediterranean Table” by Diane Kochilas.