Turkish Meatball and Potato Casserole

Turkish Meatball and Potato Casserole

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
711 Calories
63g Fat
19g Carbs
20g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 711
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 63g 81%
Saturated Fat 11g 54%
Cholesterol 77mg 26%
Sodium 673mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Protein 20g
Calcium 48mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There are endless varieties of meatball, or ‘köfte’ (KUF’-tay) dishes in Turkish cuisine. Endless combinations of ground beef and lamb, spices, fresh herbs, bread crumbs or bulgur are grilled, fried and baked. In Turkey, there is a type of ‘köfte’ for everyone.

Many ‘köfte’ dishes are local favorites and good examples of Turkish regional cuisine. One of the most beloved recipes for home cooks and restaurant chefs alike comes from the coastal city of İzmir, once known as Smyrna. It’s called ‘İzmir Köftesi’ (is-MEER’ KUF’-tay-see), which simply means ‘meatballs from Izmir.’

Although the name may seem simple, the flavor of this dish is extraordinary. It’s especially tender and juicy because it’s double-cooked.

The meatballs and the potatoes are fried first, then put in the casserole with vegetables and sauce to bake to perfection. Spring and summer tomatoes work the best, but you can also use canned tomato puree during the winter months.

‘İzmir köftesi’ is a great do-ahead dish. In fact, if it sits in the refrigerator overnight, the flavors have a chance to blend and the taste is even better when it’s reheated the next day. Go ahead and try this favorite in your own kitchen. It may become a family favorite.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (lean)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 egg
  • 4 slices white bread (stale, crusts removed)
  • 1/4 parsley (Italian variety, leaves chopped)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 3 to 4 peppers (Hungarian)
  • 1 bell pepper (green)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper (red)
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes (grated)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups cooking oil (for frying)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Turkish Meatball and Potato Casserole ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Prepare the meatballs. Put the ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Grate the onion and drain the extra juice. Add it to the meat.

    ground beef and onions in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Wet the stale bread with warm water. Squeeze out the water and add it to the meat. Add the spices, chopped parsley, and egg.

    meatball ingredients in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Knead the mixture together for several minutes until it’s well combined. Set it aside to let it rest for a few minutes.

    meatball mix in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Break off walnut-sized pieces of the meat mixture and make oblong meatballs by rolling them between palms of hands.

    raw meatballs on a platter

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Put about 1 inch of oil in a large skillet and heat on high. Fry the meatballs until they are nicely browned on all sides. Drain them on paper towels.

    meatballs in a skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  7. Peel the potatoes and cut them in wedges. Fry them in the same oil as the meatballs until they soften and turn a light golden brown. Drain them on paper towels.

    potatoes cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  8. Arrange the cooked meatballs, in a large oven-proof casserole tray, to cover the entire bottom of the tray. Next, arrange the cooked potatoes evenly over the meatballs.

    potatoes in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  9. Cut two tomatoes into wedges. Clean the green and red pepper and cut them into large strips. Arrange the vegetables along with the potatoes.

    peppers and tomatoes in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  10. Grate two more tomatoes for the sauce. Mix them with the tomato paste and hot water. Add the salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the casserole.

    seasoning on top of the vegetables in the baking dish

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  11. Bake it in a 390 F oven for about 30 minutes or until the tomatoes and peppers are softened and slightly browned.

    baked casserole

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  12. Serve meatball casserole with crusty bread to dip in the juice.

    Turkish Meatball and Potato Casserole

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

Glass Bakeware Warning

For premade casseroles or leftovers that are in a glass baking dish and have been refrigerated, do not place directly into a hot oven as the glass can shatter. Instead, place any cold glass bakeware into a cold oven to warm up while it preheats. Or, allow the bakeware to rest outside of the fridge for 30 minutes to reach room temperature while the oven preheats.