Hmmm…. Winter’s here and I don’t know about you, but I got the munchies! And what better way to satisfy your hunger on a chilly evening than a meal drenched in warm egg and lemon sauce. One of these meals is Giouvarlakia – mince meat and rice balls swimming in a delicious sauce of avgolemono, i.e. egg and lemon. Yum. I highly recommend this, and today I’m sharing the recipe of my Gran Antigoni from Corfu. For those of you who don’t know me, my granny Antigoni is a miraculous cook. And I say miraculous because her tiny kitchen in Moraitika, Corfu is hardly big enough for two people to stand in comfortably, and yet she’s been preparing in there culinary delights that would put top chefs to shame.
Here’s a pic to prove my point about the epithet ‘tiny!’
Without further ado, here’s Gran’s recipe for Giouvarlakia:
INGREDIENTS (serves 2-3)
250 grams of mince (preferably a mix of pork and beef mince)
100 grams of rice for soup (in Greece, we use ‘glace’). Note: The rice goes in raw.
1 grated carrot
1 finely chopped red onion (in cubes)
For the avgolemono sauce:
1 medium-sized lemon
Use one hand to mix the ingredients for the giouvarlakia in a bowl. It looks like this:
Put a small amount of all-purpose flour in a saucer (about 1 tablespoon).
Take some of the mix and use your hands to make a small ball. Hold the ball in one hand and with your other, take a pinch of the flour and dust a little around the ball.
Put the ball on a large dish. Continue in the same way until you’ve used all the mix. You don’t have to use all the flour.
You’ll now have a dish with the giouvarlakia ready for the pot. As you can see, this recipe makes about 12!
Fill your kettle with water and boil it. Pour about two cups of this water in a large pot and heat it on your stove. Add extra virgin olive oil (as much as you would put in a soup… roughly 3-4 tablespoons), pepper and a bit of salt.
When it starts to boil, carefully place the giouvarlakia in the water. Add hot water as needed so the giouvarlakia are covered a bit more than halfway.
Cover and simmer. After about 20 minutes, use two forks to carefully turn the balls around. Leave it simmering another 20-25 minutes, then taste the water and add salt if needed (make sure there is some liquid left. If it’s been absorbed, add some hot water from the kettle. You need water in the pot to make the sauce).
At this point, prepare the avgolemono: Juice the lemon and set aside.
Separate the egg, beat the white with a fork in a bowl. While still beating, add the yolk.
While still beating, now add the lemon juice SLOWLY.
Using a spoon or ladle, take water from the pot and place it in a cup (minimum 2/3 of a cupful).
NOW DO THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY:
Start beating the egg again, while SLOWLY adding the water into the bowl. The water is hot, but the egg in the bowl is cold, hence the need to go slow as to warm up the egg gradually or the sauce will be ruined.
Throw the mix into the pot. Lift the pot from its handles and tip it slowly from side to side to spread the sauce evenly. Put the lid on and simmer for a few seconds.
Ready to serve!
I usually serve it with fresh bread and feta cheese but occasionally go for french fries too. Whatever you decide, I am sure it will be lovely. Enjoy!
Bonus tip: For extra frothiness in the avgolemono, Gran Antigoni uses an electric hand mixer to beat the egg white.
Interested in more wintry recipes with egg and lemon sauce? Try my chicken soup with avgolemono!
Do you enjoy books that highlight Greece’s immense food culture? You may want to read more about Gran Antigoni’s culinary triumphs in my semi-autobiographical, award-winning romance, The Ebb. This book is set in a nostalgic, 198os Corfu.
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