One of the great Sephardic comfort meals is “keftes con arroz”…Sephardic meatballs and rice. We grew up on this meal made with ground beef. Today, my family prefers chicken keftes. These light, juicy meatballs in the most flavorful and savory of sauces is wonderful served on Sephardic rice!
I use a recipe passed on to me by my cooking collaborator and “kosher cooking cousin” Sarita Hasson Fields. It come from an original collection of recipes by Joseph N. Benon of Beverly Hills. Joe is the producer of a series of videos that takes you step by step through a series of Sepahrdic cooking demonstrations. His DVD’s and videos are available by contacting the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Los Angeles at 310-475-7311.
Try this recipe and tell me what you think!!
Ingredients for the Sauce:
2 – 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
6-8 cans of water
6 – 10 cloves of crushed/ground garlic
juice from 2 lemons
salt and white pepper
1+ heaping tsp chicken seasoning
1+ heaping tsp sugar
Combine all ingredients in large pot and cook on low flame on stove for one hour
Ingredients for Keftes:
2 lbs ground chicken ( recommend 1 lb dark meat and 1 lb white meat)
4-5 garlic cloves crushed/ground
juice from 2 lemons
1 cup + bread crumbs
1 cup parsley ( I often substitute cilantro)
2 -3 eggs ( + an additional 2 -3 eggs for egg bath before browning)
(I add a pinch of red pepper flakes )
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Prepare a pyrex baking dish ( “marina”) with 1/4 C of flour, salt and white pepper (to taste) mixed together on bottom of dish. Use a small scoop to make chicken meatballs and place them in flour lined baking dish. Turn them over so they are “floured” on both sides.
Prepare a saute or frypan with approx 4 tblsps of olive oil. Take each floured meatball, dip in egg to coat on each side. Lightly brown on each side in olive oil. Take from pan, drain oil and put into pot of mild boiling sauce. Repeat until all chicken patties are in sauce. Continue cooking on low an additional 45 minutes.
Prepare your rice. I have always had difficulty with rice. I either open the lid too often to check it while cooking it on the stovetop, or leave it too long and burn it! My mom’s ( Kaye Hasson Israel) method for oven cooked rice works perfectly for me each time!!
preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 1/3 C water
3 tblsps tomato sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1 C rice
Combine water, tomato sauce, S & P and olive oil in a oven proof pan with a lid. Bring to a boil. Rinse rice. When water comes to a boil, add rice. Bring again to a light boil, stirring occasionally. Put lid on pan and transfer to a preheated 350 degree oven. Cook for approximately 30 – 40 minutes ( or until all liquid is absorbed). Perfect every time!!!!
Serve rice, topped with several keftes and generous amounts of “kaldu” (sauce). Wonderful with a salad dressed with light oil and fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. Comfort food at it’s best!!! Enjoy!!!!!