Soutzoukakia/Smyrna Sausages in Tomato-Wine Sauce (Σουτζουκάκια Σμυρνέικα)
Makes 20 large sausages or 40-50 small sausages
Soutzoukakia is translated as “Smyrna sausages,” but most North Americans would call them meatballs. They’re not in casings, as are typical sausages, and their ingredient list mirrors that of meatballs. I use a combination of beef and pork for Soutzoukakia, which results in juicy, flavorful sausages; they can also be made just with beef. I don’t use breadcrumbs, as is called for in many recipes, because I prefer Soutzoukakia’s texture without it. The sausages are robustly spiced; the tomato sauce is not; the contrast is pleasing.
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 cups minced yellow onion
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup minced fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
4 tsp. cumin, ground
2 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups diced yellow onion, 1/4” dice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
28-ounce can or 3 cups crushed tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp Aleppo pepper or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
Make Sausages: Put all sausage ingredients in large bowl. Thoroughly knead ingredients together with your hands, making sure herbs and spices are evenly distributed in meat.
For large sausages, divide meat into 1/4 cup portions (using a 1/4 cup lever-action scoop speeds up this task). For small sausages, divide meat into 1-2 Tbsp. portions. Shape each portion into oblong-shaped sausages. Brown sausages in frying pan, cooking them in batches, to make sure meat fries properly (if pan is crowded, sausages will steam rather than fry). Turn sausages regularly so they brown evenly on all sides. As each batch is done, place sausages on paper towels to soak up excess oil.
Make Sauce: In large pot, sauté onions in olive oil, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, until they soften and start to turn golden. Stir in remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Gently stir browned sausages into sauce, and bring to a boil. Cover pot, turn heat down to low, and simmer for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally and being careful not to break sausages. When sauce thickens, and flavors of sausages and sauce have blended, Soutzoukakia is done. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.
For main course, serve hot over rice or pasta, accompanied by olives, feta cheese, and plenty of crusty bread.
Leftovers: I plan for leftovers when I make Soutzoukakia. Its flavor improves with the passage of time and leftovers can be used in many ways. They’re a welcome addition to an appetizer spread (mezedes) any time of year and, with melted cheese, make excellent open-faced sandwiches. Leftover Soutzoukakia over rice or pasta is a filling and enjoyable meal. Cold Soutzoukakia straight out of the refrigerator container is a wonderful, ready-made snack.