Now This is Comfort

I am so privileged to have the opportunity to know so many people of so many faiths and nationalities. I began this column today with the Greek Avgolemono in mind. For those of you who are unaware of this “brusca”(sharp tasting) sauce, it is a simplified version of the French Hollandaise in a sense. As much as I love Greek cuisine, and am knowledgeable about it, Sephardic and Ashkanazi(among others) cuisines have always been close to my heart. Why? I just don’t know. Imagine, a liberal Yankee! who would have thought? I suppose Kashrut, kosher cooking, intrigued me when a teen and I have always been a sponge when it comes to learning. Heck, I read history books to relax.
Anyway, I am rambling. Ever since my first magic show back in 1980 at the Jewish Center in Bangor, I have been most interested in the Jewish cuisine, and one of my favorite dishes is a spinoff of Avgolemono. This recipe, although not considered Kosher, has Jewish influences and I do think you will love the flavor of the sauce. This dish can also be prepared as a soup, as Avgolemono enthusiasts do, by thinning out the sauce with a little extra vegetable broth and serving it with a few meatballs. I much prefer this heartier interpretation.

Meatballs Agristada

Makes approximately 24 small meatballs.

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 cup matzo meal(or 1 cup breadcrumbs)
2 teaspoons minced garlic in oil
2 tablespoons dried chives
1/2 cup canned, chopped spinach, squeezed dry
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 eggs, slightly whisked
3/4 cup cooked rice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable broth

Agristada Sauce:
3 eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
Buttered egg noodles

In a large bowl, mix the two meats together well. Add the rest of the ingredients, except broth, and mix well using hands. Form into meatballs the size of walnuts. Over medium heat, in a large skillet, saute meatballs until brown. You will have to do this in batches. In the meantime, pour vegetable broth into a large pot and heat to boiling over medium heat. Drain meatballs on paper towels and then add to a pot of vegetable broth. Simmer for about 25 minutes, or until done. Remove meatballs from broth. Strain broth and reserve 1 1/2 cup. Or if making soup, strain the broth, keeping it all. (Double the eggs and lemon juice before whisking into hot broth). Return broth to stove and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Beat egg yolks and egg with lemon juice. Add about a cup of the hot broth to the egg mixture very slowly: whisk well.  This is called tempering. Turn heat to low and return this mixture to the pot of simmering broth and whisk well over low heat until thickened. Do not bring to a boil. Add meatballs and continue to heat until meatballs are hot and coated with sauce. Serve over cooked egg noodles.