Youvarlakia are little Greek meat and rice balls in avgolemono—egg-lemon—sauce. If you’ve ever had avgolemono or “chicken lemon rice” soup, it’s pretty much the same thing but, you know, with meatballs instead of chicken :)
This dish was extremely common when I was growing up. I’m sure we had it every week or two, and I never tired of it. In fact, I think my adoration for it actually grew over the years.
This dish is simple, rustic, and even pretty healthy. You can make this more or less soup-like depending on your preferences. Just reduce or increase the amount of broth accordingly (if you are going to reduce the broth amount by a full cup, I would suggest reducing the eggs and lemon in the avgolemono down to 2 eggs and about 1/3 cup of lemon juice). Personally, I prefer the extra broth not only because it’s incredibly tasty, but because it makes for a lovely pool in which to dip some fresh bread into. Also, the rice will continue absorbing liquid after it’s cooked, so it’s nice to make a little extra sauce for that reason.
It may take a while to get a hang of the tempering (I used to have my husband pour the broth into the beaten eggs while I vigorously stirred, but have no issues doing it on my own now). There shouldn’t be any egg pieces in the sauce when you’re done, but if you have a few, try not to fret – it happens to the best of us! (The pieces you see in the photos above are actually rogue rice kernels, not scrambled egg pieces. :) )
1 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, divided
3-4 cups broth (depending how soupy you want it)
1 to 1.25 lb. lean ground beef
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley or 1 Tbsp. dried
fresh dill, to taste (optional)
ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
hot broth from cooking youvarlakia
To make the soup and meatballs: Cut the onion in half. Finely mince or grate one half and put in a large bowl.
Dice the other half of the onion. Heat a medium sized (4 qt) pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the butter. Stir in the diced onion and cook until translucent. Add the broth to the pot and bring to a light boil.
Meanwhile, make the meatballs. To the grated/minced onion, add the beef, salt, parsley, dill (if using), ground pepper, uncooked rice and beaten egg. Form the mixture into 1″ meatballs (you will get around 25).
Drop the meatballs into the simmering broth. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 20-25 minutes, until meatballs cook through and rice is done. Remove from heat.
To make the avgolemono sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk the 3 eggs with the lemon juice until combined.
Slowly drizzle hot broth from the meatballs by the ladle-full into the egg/lemon mixture, whisking continuously so as not to scramble the eggs. Repeat until about half the broth from the pot is in the bowl.
Slowly pour the egg/lemon/broth mixture back into the meatballs, stirring as you do so. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Note: the temperature of the broth is enough to cook the eggs; however, if you are worried, you can always reheat the mixture over very low heat, stirring, before serving.
Nutrition info per servings (4 servings). Note: I used 96% lean beef, but this calorie information is using 93% lean. Calories: 361 / Fat: 15.2g / Carbs: 25g / Fiber: 1.1g / Protein: 32.7
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