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Lemony olive oil sauce enriches Greek beef and rice meatballs
Sep 25

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street

In Greek cooking, lemon and whipped eggs are a classic __ and essential __ combination. It's called avgolemono, a creamy but tart combination used to thicken sauces and soups, and that gives so many Greek dishes their characteristic tangy richness.

The eggs are beaten until frothy while the lemon juice is drizzled in. Then warm liquid from a broth or sauce is added slowly to the mixture to temper the eggs and prevent them from curdling. Finally, the tempered mixture is slowly incorporated into the dish.

A particularly delicious example is a dish called youvarlakia avgolemono, in which beef and rice meatballs dot a lemony soup that's rich and velvety with egg yolks.

But the avgolemono was a bit fussy for our weeknight standards, so we streamlined it for this recipe in our book "Tuesday Nights Mediterranean," which features weeknight-friendly meals from the region.

To simplify, we pair the meatballs with a quick pan sauce inspired by Greek ladolemono, a whisked sauce of lemon, olive oil and oregano. Putting the egg instead into the ground beef mixture adds richness while also acting as a binder, along with cooked rice that we mash with a fork. A generous amount of chopped dill lends the dish fresh herbal notes.

Don't use uncooked rice. If the rice is raw, the grains won't cook through in time. Thawed frozen, store-bought shelf-stable, or home-cooked leftover long- grain rice all do nicely. Just make sure it's at room temperature so the grains are easy to mash with a fork. Serve with warmed pita bread or a rice or orzo pilaf.

Start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings: 4

1 cup cooked long-grain white rice, room temperature

2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces

1 cup low-sodium beef broth, divided

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill, divided

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef

1 large egg yolk

3 medium garlic cloves, finely grated

2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a large bowl, mash the rice with a fork until smooth and pasty.

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2023

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