Emanuel: In Hebrew the word literally means “patties,” but what we're really talking about is a kind of Jewish meatballs that come in is many variations as there are Jewish grandmas. A lot of recipes include a sauce, or more veggies, or just veggies, and if you google ktzitzot one of the first things you'll find is not ktzitzot at all but a recipe for what is actually mafrum, which is a whole different story stuffed in a potato.
It occurs to me that they're not all the enticing in pictures or writing if you've never tasted them before.
I've also considered the possibility that it's just one of those foods you had to grow up with in order to appreciate, but it didn't take much to get Angela addicted to them, and it's not the kind of thing that would appeal to her on paper.
It's a common theme in a lot of Jewish food. Cholent, kugel, knaidlach (matzo balls); They simply aren't as photogenic as, say, Vietnamese or Mexican food, where bright greens contrast with bright reds, and sizzling chewy bits hang out of a tortilla all seductive and muy caliente.
Ktzitzot are comfort food in the truest sense of the word. They're not sexy. They're probably the opposite of an aphrodisiac, but they'll make you feel full and happy and highly nap-capable.
What I'm trying to say is that the following recipe and pictures may not look all that snazzy, especially with our crappy iPhone photography, but you'll be wise to just trust me on this one.
As far as I know the following is one of the more simple recipes, and I don't feel like it's missing anything at all.
You obviously always want to use the highest quality beef, but ktzitzot, like meatloaf, are great in that you can make do on a budget. For this batch specifically I used Trader Joe's ground beef and it was still delicious.
a pound of ground beef (85%)
Two medium yellow onions
I'm using Osem bread crumbs which are made in Israel. This is not some hometown pride nonsense nor does it make a difference flavor-wise, but it's better than Progresso, which I do my best to avoid.
The Osem brand has 7 ingredients which sound like they could conceivably belong in breadcrumbs. Progresso has around 30 ingredients, with the second and third being high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup, respectively.
Anyway, you want to start by chopping the onions and frying them in olive oil in a big pan until brown, just before they start to burn.
While that's happening, mix in a bowl the ground beef, eggs, salt, parsley, and paprika, periodically adding just enough breadcrumbs to soak up the liquids. You want the mix to be moist and shiny but not wet. Once the onions are nicely browned, add them to the bowl, using a spatula to incorporate them into the beef mixture. Alternatively, mix with your hands like a badass.
Use a paper towel to wipe away some of the oil and any stray onion that's still on the pan. Turn the heat to low and melt butter in the pan.
Now you want to make the patties. The crucial tip here is that you don't want to handle the meat too much. Make a small ball and place it on the pan.
Don't toss it or compact it in your hands. Just make it into a nice sphere, handling it as least as possible, and place it in the buttered pan. Then use a spatula to flatten it.
Once the pan is full with patties you might want to turn the heat up a little. I like my burgers medium, but I find that ktzitzot are better well-done. You can cook them slowly until they're nice and brown, or even until they are almost black and crispy on the outside.
Once the ktzitzot are cooked place them on a plate that's been readied with paper towels to soak up oil.
Angela: These things are delicious. They're adequately described as "things," I think, because they're really just awkward lumps of beef cooked to magnificence. Now, if you were me--which wouldn't be such a bad thing--you'd ask for these nice and crispy-dark on the outside. Lots of things look good in pink, but ktzitzot isn't one of them.
Emanuel: If you have the restraint to not eat them all the same day you're in luck. These are just as good if not better straight out of the fridge, and you could always reheat them if you want. They're also great with tahini or yogurt, but most of the time I just add a little salt.