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Albóndigas de Pirasa (Leek Meatballs)

March 22, 2021
Albóndigas de Pirasa (Leek Meatballs)

To keep her family’s Turkish Sephardic history, and their recipes, alive, Beyhan Cagri Trock published a culinary memoir called The Ottoman Turk and the Pretty Jewish Girl. “My favorite dish is Albondigas de Pırasa (Spanish for ‘balls of’ and Turkish for ‘leeks’),” Trock writes. “They’re made with a seasoned ground beef and leek mixture or spinach, mashed potatoes or eggplant, formed into patties and fried. My aunts shape the potato patties round instead of oval so you can tell them apart from the leek ones.”

Featured in: Turkish Memories, Jewish Food

Recipe by: Beyhan Cagri Trock


  • 6medium leeks
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • ¼teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1cup matzoh meal or matzoh cake flour, divided
  • 4large eggs, divided
  • 3tablespoons vegetable oil, more as needed
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • cup chicken broth (optional)
Yield: 12-15 patties


  • Step 1

    Cut off the bottoms and tops of the leeks, leaving about 1-inch of green stem, and remove the toughest outer leaves. Slice into 1-inch circles and wash meticulously in many changes of cold water to remove the sand or grit.

  • Step 2

    Boil the leeks in a large pot, with enough water to cover, for 20 to 25 minutes, covered, or just until tender. Don’t overcook or the leeks will get mushy.

  • Step 3

    Drain well and allow the leeks to cool. Squeeze them between your hands to remove as much water as possible. Then finely chop and set aside. Resist the urge to use the food processor as it makes the leeks too sludge-like.

  • Step 4

    Put the ground beef, salt, pepper, 1/3 cup matzoh meal, and 2 eggs in a large bowl and knead well for at least 4 minutes. Add the leeks and continue to knead until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Add more matzoh meal if the mix is too wet to form into patties.

  • Step 5

    Have a small bowl of water nearby when you are ready to form the patties. Moisten your hands and grab about 1/4 cup of the mixture and pat it into a flattish, oval patty about ½ inch thick, rounding the ends. Set aside on aluminum foil. Repeat with the remainder.

  • Step 6

    Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. It should be ½ inch deep. As the oil heats, set out a shallow bowl with 2 remaining eggs, whisked, and a wide plate with remaining 2/3 cups matzoh meal for dredging. Also, line a baking sheet with paper towels for soaking up excess frying oils and have it ready.

  • Step 7

    Test the oil temperature by carefully flicking a tiny drop of water into it. It should sizzle. Dredge each patty; first in matzoh meal and then in egg. Gingerly put the patty into the hot oil. Continue with 4 to 5 more, and fry until they turn a deep golden brown (about 3 to 4 minutes).

  • Step 8

    Gently flip over, brown the other side, and drain on paper towels. Fry the remaining patties and serve immediately, sprinkled with a squirt of lemon juice.

  • Step 9

    If you are preparing them in advance, when the albóndigas have cooled, remove paper towels from under them and put on a baking sheet. Freeze for at least 3 hours. Then toss them into a large freezer bag and store in freezer until needed. Then thaw the patties in the refrigerator.

  • Step 10

    Twenty minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the patties in an ovenproof casserole dish. Pour the chicken broth over the top, cover, and warm in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until all the broth has evaporated. Then sprinkle with the lemon juice.