This recipe of meatballs or Chiftele is a traditional Romanian one. The “Chiftele” are basically meat patties made with ground pork or mixed with ground beef and then deep fried. The mixture has also bread crumbs, spices, garlic and eggs. In some regions of Romania, a shredded potato is also added. Neither my grandmother or my mother added potato to the meat, so my recipe today is the basic one, the one I personally grew up with. The slightly flat shape is very popular but sometimes we make them smaller and round and serve them as appetizers.
The meatballs were made quite often in my family. It was a cheap, delicious way to combine different ingredients and come up with these almost flat meatballs that would be served in sandwiches, snacks, next to a salad, French fries, mashed potatoes or other vegetables. Sometimes, the women in my family would make a tomato sauce to them and create the so called “Chiftele Marinate” dish or “Marinated Meatballs”. The sauce was delicious with mashed potatoes or simple served with some white crusty good bread for dipping.
The recipe is not very difficult to put together. After you gather the ingredients, dice the onion and garlic, also the dill and add them to the meat.
You can use either ground pork, beef, or a mixture of both. Add to the mixture the rest of the ingredients (the bread crumbs, water, and finally salt and pepper to your taste.)
Mix everything into a smooth paste.
Grab a different bowl and place few tablespoons of flour in it. Sprinkle the table with a little bit of flour.
Dust your palms with flour and grab a small amount of meat mixture. Make a round meatball and roll it in the bowl with flour. Coat the meatball with flour really well then flatten it, but keep it in a round shape.
Set the meatballs on the floured surface(they will not stick to the surface) and keep working on the rest of them.
Meanwhile, place a pan with oil on the stove and heat it up.
Grandma’s tip for checking if the oil is hot enough for frying:
If you insert a wooden spoon into the oil, the oil will bubble around the stick when it’s ready for frying. If you have a thermometer, the temperature should be between 300-325F, and you should aim to keep it that way.
When the oil is hot, gently slide them in the skillet and fry them 4-5 mins on each side until they get brown.
Remove them from the pan and place them on paper towels to drain. Serve them warm but cold are good also. I love them in sandwiches with mustard, or slices of tomatoes.
If you make them round, they are perfect as appetizers.
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- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup water
- 2 eggs
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- salt and pepper
- 4-5 Tbsp flour for dusting them before frying
- ½ cup oil for frying
- In a medium bowl place the ground pork and beef together.
- Add bread crumbs, diced onion, crushed garlic, chopped dill.
- Add eggs and salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the water and mix everything really well to combine.
- Tip: Mixing all the ingredients with your hand would work better than a spoon
- On a clean surface sprinkle some flour.
- Also grab a smaller bowl and put 4-5 tablespoons of flour in it.
- Dust some flour on your palms and grab a small amount of meat mixture.
- Make a round meatball and roll it in the bowl with flour.
- Coat the meatball with flour really well then flatten it slightly, but keep it round.
- Set the meatballs on the floured surface and keep working on the rest of them.
- Meanwhile, warm up oil in a skillet on medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, slide the meatballs carefully in the skillet and fry them 4-5 mins on each side until they get browned.
- Serve warm with mashed potatoes, French fries, a simple tomato salad, in sandwiches, pita bread served with fresh tzatziki dip, hot sauce etc.
- They freeze really well. Just reheat them at 400F in the oven until warm. Very versatile!