Friday, April 26, 2013

My Mom's Youvarlakia...

Angeline Xanttopoulos
Today would have been my mother Angeline Xanttopoulos's 88th birthday. And so I decided to make youvarlakia, one of my mom's specialties and one our favorites -- and from a recipe of hers that I had written down on October 4, 1998.

For the uninitiated, youvarlakia are meatballs made with rice and finely chopped onion, and laced with minced fresh mint -- all mixed thoroughly "without over-handling." The meatballs are then rolled in flour and gently dropped into boiling chicken broth -- not unlike matzo balls for matzo ball soup -- and simmered until the rice is done. Eggs are beaten with lemon juice and "avgolemeno" is made with the broth, either as soup or thickened with cornstarch as sauce (and always a bit tricky so the egg doesn't curdle).  Serve the youvarlakia as a filling soup or made larger as a main course with the sauce.  Both are winners if you do it right.

When was in Greece last November, I had some excellent youvarlakia at Bouris Restaurant in my grandmother's hometown, Koroni, Messinias -- at one of the only places I could find there with cooked Greek food ("tis katsarolas") and not just grilled items ("tis oras"). They were delicious and served with another of my all-time favorites, boiled dandelion greens ("horta") with olive oil.  But good as those youvarlakia were in a perfect setting, they just weren't as good as my Mom's. Mine weren't that good either.  I'll keep trying, but there will always be something missing...

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