Sheftalia in Cyprus Pita
makes about 40 sheftalia
Sheftalia is an oval shaped meat ball that is wrapped in caul fat. Caul fat is the membrane that surrounds the stomach and is transparent, fragile, and naturally fatty. When it is finally grilled or barbecued, all the fat melts away.
Caul fat, thawed if frozen
2 lemons, juiced
3 1/3 pounds ground pork
3 onions, finely chopped
4 small tomatoes, grated
1 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Tomato and cucumber, for salad
Extra lemon, parsley, onion to serve
prep: 1 hour
total: 1 hour 30 minutes
2 large bowls
metal skewers (or wire grilling basket)
1. Wash the caul fat well under running cold water. Place it in a bowl, add the lemon juice and leave for 10-15 minutes. Rinse and drain the caul fat.
2. In a large bowl, knead together the ground pork, onion, tomato, parsley, salt, pepper and cinnamon and form it into small oval meat balls.
3. Carefully unravel the caul fat and stretch it out over your work surface. Cut it into 3-inch-square pieces. Place a spoonful of the ground meat at one edge and fold over the other edges, then roll the meatball into a neat little package, shaping it with the palms of your hand
4. Thread metal skewers with 4-5 meatballs each (or place them inside a wire basket grill). Do not place too close to direct heat as the meatballs must cook fairly slowly so that the inside is well cooked and the outside nicely browned without being burnt. (The fat will melt during cooking, keeping the meat moist and adding flavour. Excessive flaring of the fire can be controlled by a sprinkle of salt on the coals.)
5. Warm the pita bread and slice it down one edge to form a large pocket. Slide two to three meatballs off the skewer into the pita and add chopped tomatoes and cucumber, 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, as much chopped onion as you like. Season with salt and a lot of lemon juice.