This is a wonderful, comforting dish for the cold days coming up as well as for special occasions. I remember my mother making it when I was a child and we were all looking forward to it. The meatballs topped with the garlicky potato puree look so pretty, a real winner for everyone, and an impressive dish for entertaining and sharing with friends too.
Like the most of Turkish casseroles, you can cook ahead of time (up to a day before) and the leftovers can be frozen successfully. We Turks love meatballs, our koftes; there is also the lovely Baked meatballs casserole with vegetables, as well as Mini gluten-free meatballs in peppery sauce recipes at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, if you’d like to have it. Signed copies are available at this link and delivered worldwide, including the US.
I hope you enjoy this delicious Turkish meatballs with garlicky mashed potato, Hasan Pasa Koftesi.
Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 40 minutes
For the meatballs:
140g/5oz – 3 slices day old bread, crusts removed
900g/2lb ground (minced) beef, lamb or mixture
1 yellow onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
5ml/1 teaspoon pul biber or red pepper flakes
10ml/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bowl of water with a drizzle of olive oil to wet hands (for shaping meatballs)
For the vegetable garnish:
1 red or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 green and 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
400g/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
10ml/2 teaspoons tomato paste
15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil
16fl oz/2 cups water
For the garlicky mashed potatoes:
80ml/1/3 cup milk
450g/1lb potatoes cut in chunks
30ml/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
110gr/4oz grated mild cheddar cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180 C/ 350 F / Gas mark 4
To make the meatballs (koftes); soak the bread in cold water briefly and squeeze out excess water. In a large bowl, combine the onions, garlic, bread, parsley and spices. Give a good mix with your hands. This will soften the onions and blend the spices really well in the mixture. (Also, you can check the seasoning before adding the eggs and the meat.) Now add the eggs and the ground (minced) meat, wet your hands and mix all the ingredients for about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes so that all the flavours can mingle.
Grease an oven tray with 1 tbsp olive oil. Wet your hands and take a large tangerine sized meatball mixture into your hands. Shape each one into a round ball and flatten each one slightly and make a well in the centre of each one, to hold the mashed potato later. Once you shaped all the meatballs this way, par bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Then take the tray out of the oven for the next stage.
While the meatballs are having their initial baking, let’s make the mashed potatoes. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan filled with salted hot water. Bring the pan to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and cook the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they are tender. Drain the water and once cool, peel the potato skin (I found peeling the skin this way much easier then before cooking). Warm the milk in a small saucepan or in the microvawe. Place the butter and garlic in a sauce pan over low heat, stirring for about 1 minute. Add the potatoes and the warm milk. Season with salt and pepper. Mash the mixture with a potato masher for about 1 minute, then stir in the grated cheese. Mash and combine well until it is smooth and creamy.
In a large baking dish, place the chopped onions, bell peppers and the can of chopped tomatoes. In a jug, mix the water, olive oil and the tomato paste and combine this with the vegetables in the baking dish.
Place the meatballs in the baking dish, amongst the vegetables and put equal amounts of the mashed potatoes in the centre of each meatball. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the top of the potatoes lightly browned.
Serve the meatballs warm with vegetable garnish and some plain rice by the side. Cacik dip of cucumber and yoghurt would complement this lovely dish very well.