Meat Cups Filled With Mashed Potatoes (Çanak Köftesi)

Turkish 'çanak köftesi' is meat cups filled with mashed potato and baked to perfection. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu
  • 40 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ratings (4)

Did you know that some of the most creative recipes for ground beef exist in Turkish cuisine? Ground beef is used to make meatballs, meatloaves, layered pastry called ‘börek’ (beur-ECK’) and cooked together with endless varieties of vegetables to make savory dishes and stews like spinach and ground beef stew and eggplant stuffed with ground beef.

Another great Turkish recipe for ground beef is called ‘Çanak Köftesi,’ or meat cups filled with mashed potato. It’s actually very simple to make. All you have to do is prepare the recipe for basic Turkish köfte and Turkish-style mashed potatoes, better known as ‘patates püresi’ (pah-tah-TEYS’ peur-ay-SEE’)and put the two together.

The trick is to make small cups out of the ground beef mixture and fill each one with a generous mound of mashed potato. A sprinkle of popular Turkish cheese like fresh kashar and you pop them in the oven.

The result is a dish that’s as fun to look at as it is to eat. Kids love this dish and it’s a great way to add variety to your kid-friendly menus.   

What You'll Need

  • 1 lb ground beef, 10 or 20% fat content
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 slices stale white sandwich bread
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Turkish kashar or other mild cheese

How to Make It

  1. To make the meat cups, add the ground beef, egg and spices to a mixing bowl.  Gently remove the crusts from the stale bread and wet it, squeezing out the extra water. Add the moistened bread to the bowl. Wearing rubber gloves, knead all the ingredients together well until it thickens and stiffens, similar to dough. If you have time, cover the top with plastic wrap and let it rest about 15 minutes.
  1. To make a meat cup, tear off a ball of the meat mixture the size of a golf ball. Make a hole in the center with your finger, then as if you were shaping pottery by hand,  use your fingers to lengthen the sides upward and enlarge the hole. Your meat cup should be able to stand up on its own when you place it in the baking pan.
  2. Set your meat cup in a round or rectangular baking tray. Repeat these steps with rest of the meat mixture until you have filled your baking tray.
  3. To make the mashed potatoes, peel your potatoes and boil them until very soft. Drain the excess water and mash them with a hand masher while they are still hot. Add the butter and spices and continue to mash.
  4. Beat them with an electric mixer for several minutes to get rid of the lumps. Slowly add the milk while you continue to beat them until you have a still potato mixture that will hold peaks.
  5. Using a dessert spoon, fill the centers of each meat cup with a generous portion of the mashed potato. You can also use a cake icing decorator . Make sure you pile the potato high to make peaks on top of each meat cup.
  6. Sprinkle the top of each potato mound with grated cheese. Bake the ‘köfte’ in a 390° F/200° C oven until the meatballs are cooked and the tops of the potatoes are slightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  7. Serve your ‘çanak köftesi’ hot along with Turkish rice pilaf with orzo and a salad like Turkish shepherd’s salad. 
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 352
Total Fat 17 g
Saturated Fat 8 g
Unsaturated Fat 6 g
Cholesterol 123 mg
Sodium 969 mg
Carbohydrates 21 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Protein 28 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)