Wed Jan 11, 2012
I really love getting comments/notes/emails from you all with kind words about this here blog—I can check analytics all I want, but there's nothing like hearing from someone who actually tried and liked a recipe. Last month I got one of these such notes from a fan on Facebook, who newly discovered the Meatwave and promptly went for the keftedes. So this one is for Laura, because if you liked those Greek meatballs, you bound to love this bifteki—basically large keftedes with the added bonus of being stuffed with feta.
What does any good meat patty start with? Fatty meat! Doesn't matter if it's burgers or meatballs or this bifteki, I like to start with ground chuck. As well documented previously, chuck fulfills on two requirements for me: a great beefy flavor and a ratio of fat-to-meat around 20%, which will keep the meat moist over the hot heat of the grill and add flavor. Of course, I always advocate for grinding at home, but at least get the meat freshly ground from a decent butcher.
Having done a fair amount of Greek cooking—it's hard not to when living in Astoria, aka. Greek capital of the USA—the seasoning mixture has become second nature. Whether it be gyro, souvlaki, or keftedes, it's pretty much a given there's going to be onion, garlic, and oregano. This bifteki got a little more herbs with the addition of mint, thyme, and parsley, but the end result is pretty much the same.
My only real problem with the keftedes were the meatball ended up being a little too soft for the grill. To combat that here, I skipped soaking the bread in milk and went for straight up breadcrumbs. This was a good solution, giving a nice, firm meat that was easily shaped and held up on the grill.
Now for the defining characteristic of the bifteki—stuffing it with cheese! Most Greek places in the neighborhood have befteki, but merely call it a "burger," which created a pleasant surprise with its cheese filled center the first few times I ever ordered it. I've seen different cheeses used, but I think when going Greek, Feta makes an excellent choice. While it softens over the heat, it doesn't really melt, staying in tact to give a salty, creamy center that doesn't ooze out while eating.
All the beef was formed around sticks of feta and then grilled. While I often go for fully cooked on meatballs, I kept the keftedes slightly undercooked, at a rosy medium/medium-well, which was reached just as the meat was well seared on all sides.
After trying the bifteki, I'd say skip the keftedes and go straight to this. You get everything the meatballs are—juicy and beefy with a herb assortment that makes them uniquely Greek—but so much more with addition of Feta. The added creamy and saltiness goes a long way in heightening the flavor and texture of the whole thing. You could put this on a bun and eat "burger" style, but I like the platter version with tomato, red onion, and tzatziki accompaniments, which round out the meal very nicely.
Adapted from Kayotic Kitchen.
- Prep Time:
- 20 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 15 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 35 Minutes
- Serves 4
- 2 slices of white bread
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped mint
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Greek)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- One 2 x 2 x 1-inch block feta cheese, drained
- For Serving
- 1 tomato, thinly sliced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine breadcrumbs. Pour the breadcrumbs into a large bowl and add the ground beef, chopped red onion, thyme, mint, parsley, oregano, salt, salt, egg, and black pepper. Mix together with your hands until evenly combined. Break of quarter-sized piece and fry in skillet until cooked (or microwave on high power for 30 seconds). Taste for seasoning and adjust with more salt and pepper as necessary.
- Cut off 4 slices of feta 1/2-in wide each. Break off 1/4 of the meat mixture and work into an oval patty. Using your thumb, create a depression running longways through the middle of the patty and place 1 slice of the feta inside it. Form the meat around the cheese and seal, making sure to enclose the entire piece of feta inside of the meat. Repeat 3 more times with the remaining meat and cheese slices.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill the meat patties over high heat until browned on all side and just cooked through (center should read 135 to 145 on instant-read thermometer). Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve with onion slices, tomatoes, and tzatziki.