Klops meatballs Klops meatballs Israeli Kitchen Photo: Miriam Kresh

Slow cooker meatballs

Ever heard of a klop? These Old World meatballs get a modern makeover.

  • Yield: Serves 6-8
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 4 hours

A long time ago in Eastern Europe, a housewife stood by her wood-burning stove, wondering what to make for lunch. The kids would be coming home soon, rowdy and hungry.

So much noise they make, she sighed. She tied an apron around her waist and put her hands on her hips. How was she going to satisfy them on a couple pounds of ground meat?

Klops, she said.

Naturally, there had to be sauce. And plenty of mashed potatoes. The kids loved the klops, stuffed themselves, and remembered them when they left Europe to make a new life in America. Sons pestered their wives to cook them; daughters served them up “just like Grandma used to make.” And so this Old World meatball migrated – or so I’d like to think.

I was never introduced to klops, although my Latina mother makes divine Italian meatballs and good old American meatloaf. Following her style, I add only a few tablespoons of something starchy to the ground meat, more to help it keep its shape than to stretch it out.

Anyway, I always thought of a “klop” as a blow to the head, like how you kill a fish. Maybe it’s because butchers had to “klop” the meat with a heavy knife to get it fine enough – before there were meat grinders? But there they are, klops.

Because I like the flavors, I cook klops with red wine and Mediterranean herbs. Our great-grandmothers wouldn’t recognize the recipe, I’m sure, because tomato sauce and wine were luxury items back then. But the rich flavor, the piquancy of onions and the soft texture of the meatballs, I think they would have known.

Husband and the Little One gobble this up and ask me to make it every so often, so I guess it’s good. In fact it’s darn good. And easy to make. Try my klops, they’re almost as good as chicken soup.


    For the meatballs

  • 2 pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 scallions, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • For the sauce

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried (or oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste


Klops meatballs(Photo: Miriam Kresh) 

Mix the ingredients for the klops well. Set the meat aside, covered, to for the flavors to start integrating while you make the sauce.

In a medium pan, sauté the onion in a little oil until golden. Add the garlic and tomatoes; cook 10 minutes or so until everything is very soft. Add the tomato paste, wine, rosemary, salt and pepper to taste. You should have a thick sauce. Simmer it a few minutes longer.

Wet your hands and form big, flat, plump patties. Place them in the slow cooker, and when you run out of room, make a second layer on top.

Tip the hot sauce over the klops and cook for 4 hours on low. Serve with crisp-skinned potatoes or for comfort, mashed potatoes. And to balance, a leafy salad.

Related Topics: Meat and Poultry, Mediterranean

Recipes from the Israeli KitchenRecipes from the Israeli Kitchen