Yet again I was inspired by our very own My Meals Are on Wheels at https://beatcancer2010.wordpress.com/ for this delicious, exotic take on the classic meatballs. I say inspired, because try though I may, I can never follow a recipe exactly the way it is written. I am always going to make it my own way, no matter what. But I do like to give credit where credit is due. 🙂
These meatballs are seasoned with delicious and exotic flavorings from Morocco. At first I was going to serve them over pasta, but instead decided to serve them over creamy mashed potatoes. I am very glad I made that switch too. The sauce was so rich, and it really needed something more substantive like potatoes, to not let any of the flavors go to waste. I served it with some warmed rosemary olive oil bread and a rich, full bodied, spicy red wine too, to complete the meal.
2 lbs ground beef
1 small onion, diced fine
1 1/2 TBSP garlic
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for topping
1 TBSP cumin
1 TBSP coridander
1 TBSP paprika
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
salt to taste
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2-3 TBSP olive oil
1-2 TBSP orange olive oil, optional
2-3 TBSP tomato paste
2 tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 cups tomato passata
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2-3/4 cups sliced olives
Combine the ground beef, onions, garlic, ginger, cilantro, the spices, bread crumbs and the egg and mix together well. I find the best way to really mix them together is by hand. The original recipe did not call for bread crumbs, but it needed something to help bind the meatballs together.
Once everything is mixed together, form the mixture into meatballs and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Get a large pot very hot and add the oils. Carefully place the meatballs in the hot oil, spacing them apart so they are not over crowded. You may have to cook the meatballs in batches. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until the meatballs are completely browned. The house and kitchen will be so aromatic. The whole house will smell like a Moroccan spice bizarre.
When all the meatballs are cooked, add them all back into the pot and add the tomatoes, tomato passata, tomato paste, olives and beef stock and combine together well. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Of course I added diced tomatoes and olives as well, to make the sauce even richer. I liked the addition of the olives too. They made the dish more authentic since olives are so abundant in that whole region.
You might be asking yourself “What is a tomato passata?” Trust me, I didn’t know either, but once I looked it up, I realized it is just a fancy name for the pure tomato purees I make all the time any way. This time, I used some of my leftover heirloom tomato vinaigrette. Heirloom Tomato, Garlic & Herb Vinaigrette with Steak Salad
Once everything is added to the pot, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks. The sauce will be very rich and full of flavor. and the whole house will smell absolutely wonderful. the original recipe called to slow cook it in a crockpot for about 5 hours. Who has that kind of time these days? 🙂
I served this rich sauce over creamy mashed potatoes, which was a perfect choice. The flavors of the sauce just melted in with the potatoes. I added more chopped cilantro on top which made this a very cool and refreshing addition to the spicy and aromatic sauce. Delicious!
Stay cool, stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.