Keftes in Greek means meat patty, and prasso-keftes is a meat patty into which leeks have been incorporated. The recipe I am using here makes a crunchy and juicy leek fritter, let me tell you! It's based on one found in the book Sephardic Flavors - Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean, which I recently purchased from Amazon.com
The White Tower in Salonika (formally known as Thessaloniki), near which was located one of the three Jewish quarters of the town.My family, who are Salonika natives, had developed friendships in the Sephardic community. I remember one gentleman in particular, a bachelor, who was a close friend. He gave us one of his favorite recipes, leek fritters with meat, and we made it for him often, especially around such Jewish holidays as Passover and Rosh Hashanah. We too loved those leek fritters. I remember them sitting on the kitchen counter, freshly cooked and aromatic. "Don't touch," my mother would say to me. I had to wait my turn. Adults got served first, then children. I kept counting them as they were being plated, wondering how many would be left for me. Through the years we unfortunately lost our recipe for leek fritters. Weren't we lucky to find this delectable version, nestled among the pages of the cookbook "Sephardic Flavors?"
How to make leek fritters with meat:
3 pounds leeks
3/4 pound ground beef
3 slices rustic bread, crusts removed, soaked in water, and squeezed dry. (The recipe allows to substitute 2 mashed potatoes for the bread. I tried this, but to me, the fritters taste better with the bread).
2 eggs separated
2 eggs separated
3 tablespoons walnuts, ground up well in a food processor
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped well
2 shallots, chopped well
salt and pepper to taste
all purpose flour for dredging
canola oil for frying
- Clean the leeks well, cut off the root end and most of the green part. Cut them lenghwise and then crosswise in 1/2 inch pieces. Soak them in water to remove any left over dirt, then drain them. Put them in a pot with salted water to cover, and then simmer until the leeks are soft, about 25 minutes. Drain them very well.
- In a bowl combine the leeks, ground beef, bread, egg yolks, walnuts, parsley, garlic and shallots. Season with salt and pepper and knead until the mixture holds together well.
- Form them into balls about 2 inches in diameter, and then flatten them a bit.
- Pour canola oil to a depth of 1 inch into a medium saucepan and heat the oil.
- Meanwhile spread some flour on a plate, and in a bowl beat the egg whites until they get frothy (not stiff).
- When the oil is hot, dip the meatballs in the flour and then in the egg whites. Add them to the oil in batches and fry them until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer them to paper towels to drain.
- Arrange them on a platter and serve them with lemon wedges.
- Left over leek fritters can be reheated in tomato sauce. Also, the bread crumbs and flour listed in the recipe can be substituted by matzoh meal.