Keftes de Carne

by Rachel on December 10, 2010

Keftes de Carne

I have carnivores at my house.  I’m always looking for new easy ways to satisfy their meat desires.  Keftes de Carne is a Sephardic dish that in English means “croquettes of meat.”  You can make Keftes out of pretty much anything from lentils, to lamb, to leeks.  My friend Nancy’s Grandmother used to make a version of this dish for Nancy and her family.  I walked into Nancy’s kitchen the other day and the smell was so wonderful I had to give the recipe a shot.  I’ve jazzed up Nancy’s version a bit.  Here’s my take on Sephardic Keftes de Carne.

Keftes de Carne (serves 6-8)


  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs (Italian style or plain)
  • 2 teaspoons flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup grapeseed oil


  • 2 15-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced

Mix together meat, 4 eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley and spices.  Shape into 24 meatballs.  Traditionally these meatballs are oval and a bit flat, rather than round.  You can make them in whatever shape pleases you and I’ll be none the wiser.  Place the flour and the eggs each in their own low flat bowl.  Dip each flattened meatball in flour and then in egg.  Heat grapeseed oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Fry meatballs until golden brown on both sides.  It’s best to wait until the oil is quite hot before putting in the meatballs – if you start too soon they’ll stick to the pan.

I like my onions and garlic browned until soft BEFORE I put them in a tomato sauce, so I put 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil (grapeseed oil will work too) in a large pot and browned the onions and garlic first.  I then add the rest of the sauce ingredients.  Nancy puts everything in together, which will save you 10 minutes of prep time.  You pick.  Place meatballs in the sauce and simmer for 30 minutes.  These meatballs are traditionally eaten over rice, rather than over pasta.  Nancy makes her rice with beef bouillon or beef broth, rather than water.  I think we should follow Nancy’s lead.  She definitely knows what’s what.

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