Beef and Rice Meatballs with Lemon–Olive Oil Sauce

Beef and Rice Meatballs with Lemon–Olive Oil Sauce

Beef and Rice Meatballs with Lemon–Olive Oil Sauce


Don’t use uncooked rice, even though many recipes do. 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. Make sure it’s at room temperature so the grains are easy to mash with a fork.


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 T. 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 tsp. dried oregano, divided

5 T. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 T. lemon juice


In a large bowl, mash the rice with a fork until smooth and pasty. Add the bread, ¼ cup of broth, 2 T. of dill, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Using your hands, mix and mash the ingredients to a paste. Add the beef, egg yolk, half of the garlic and 1 tsp. of oregano, then mix with your hands until the mixture is homogeneous. Divide into 12 portions, form into smooth balls and place on a plate. Refrigerate, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 2 T. of oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook without disturbing until lightly browned on the bottoms, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn the meatballs and cook until browned on the second sides, about another 3 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and the remaining 1 tsp. oregano and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ¾ cup broth, then scrape up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer, then cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, gently stirring once or twice, until the centers of the meatballs reach 160°F, 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the meatballs to a serving dish and tent with foil. Bring the liquid in the pan to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick enough that a spatula drawn through it leaves a trail, 2 to 3 minutes. Off heat, whisk in the remaining 3 T. olive oil and the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and sprinkle with the remaining 2 T. dill.

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