Spinach-Meat Mini Patties
I like working with ground meat. I do a lot with hamburgers, meat loaf and meatballs, using ground beef or ground turkey. I also love to use ground chicken breast and am thinking about ground lamb (burgers with fresh mint!). I always incorporate vegetables into the ground meat, making them more flavorful, lighter and more healthful.
For Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I was playing around with the idea of making smaller beef patties in combination with spinach, on the order of Kibbeh. Kibbeh is a Lebanese mixture of meat and bulghur that is popular throughout the Middle East. What I wanted to do was substitute spinach for the bulghur, making light small oval patties that were baked and not fried. I tried two different versions – one using a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground turkey with 20 ounces of chopped spinach (this was for a crowd). In another version, I used a pound of ground beef, and about 15 ounces of frozen, chopped spinach.
This recipe was adapted from a meatball recipe from Salonika called Albondigas de Espinaka that I found in The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden. It is often made with fresh spinach, steamed and then drained. I use frozen chopped spinach, just as nutritious and saves me work.
I needed something to use as a binder. I use challah bread crumbs often. The albondigas (Spanish for meatballs) recipe called for using challah that was soaked in water and torn up (or torn up and then soaked). I decided to try that.
In the original recipe, the spinach and meat mixture is placed in a food processor, blended to a paste, and then shaped into meatballs. I don’t put meat into my food processor, and also thought that the step included unnecessary washing time of food processor parts (which I’m generally not fond of doing), so I simply blended the ingredients together well.
The meatballs are traditionally fried in shallow oil but I baked them in this renovation. I shaped them into patties and rolled them lightly in Panko (Japanese bread crumbs), shaking off the excess. You can also use matzoh meal or flour for rolling.
Spinach-Meat Mini Patties
adapted from Claudia Rodens’s Book of Jewish FoodIngredients: 20 oz. frozen chopped spinach 1 lb. ground beef 1 lb. ground turkey 2 eggs 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg 1 t. salt 1/2 t. black pepper 3 slices challah, torn up and soaked in hot water and squeezed out (or French or Italian bread, crusts removed) 1 T. olive oil 1/2 c. Panko (or matzo meal) 1/2 t. paprika, sweet or hot or both
Preheat oven to 375º .
Place frozen spinach in microwave-safe plate (I use a glass pie plate) with 3 tablespoons water. Cover with wax paper or paper towel and microwave for 3 minutes until softened. You may need to microwave it for an additional minute. Cool spinach and press all the water out with your hands or using a colander. The spinach must be as dry as possible.
Place ground meat in large bowl. Add 3 slices of challah, torn into small pieces. Add spinach, eggs, salt and pepper, garlic, nutmeg and oil. Mix well to thoroughly combine.
Grease a large, rimmed baking pan. A jelly roll pan works well for this. Depending on the quantity, you may need to use 1 or 2 pans.
Place Panko in a large shallow bowl or pie plate. Have a small bowl of cool water nearby as you may need to wet your fingers while making the patties. Using your hands, shape into little flat, oval patties. They will be soft. Dip them in the Panko, and place them in fairly tight rows on the baking pan. Sprinkle with a bit of extra Panko, if needed. Sprinkle with a light amount of smoked or sweet paprika.
Bake for 12-14 minutes.
Servings: Two pounds of meat can yield about 60- great for 20-25 people. Use half the recipe 10-12 servings for a first course or part of a buffet.
bb note: These meat patties are delicious as is or can be served atop a plate of hummus, drizzled with olive oil and topped with fresh parsley. They can also be accompanied by fresh tomato sauce.
Happy New Year!