Wednesday, September 16, 2009

North African Meatballs

Do you know Melissa D'arabian? She's the lady who won on the Next Food Network Star. I never really followed the show much, one, because I didn't know it even existed, and... yeah, that's the only reason. How ignorant had I been? Now that I know, I will follow the next season for sure. Anyway, luckily, I got a chance to see one episode (it was a rerun) and I really liked Melissa D'arabian. She's an amazing chef. She's creative and really nice. (At least she appears to be really nice.) One night, I watched her new show called "Ten dollar dinners". She was making North African Meatballs. And they looked incredible. She used lots of ingredients that I would've never thought of using in meatballs. So I just had to try it. So I did. And wow, it was absolutely scrumptious!! The cilantro and the cinnamon gave the meatballs a very unique and yet totally flavorful taste. Oh and a little bit of lemon in the sauce... The sauce was a little bit tangy but very flavorful. Yum!! I'll definitely make it again.

North African Meatballs
Adapted from Melissa D'arabian's recipe


For the North African Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 cup pitted and chopped briny olives
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 cup finely ground rolled oats or fine bread crumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, for cooking
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Couscous with Dried Dates, recipe follows


To make the North African Sauce:

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and olives and cook for 1 more minute. Add the white wine, deglaze the pan, and let it reduce for a 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, canned tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon, and simmer to blend flavors, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To make the Meatballs: In a medium bowl, add the egg and tomato paste and stir until smooth. Add the cilantro, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon and mix until well blended. Stir in the ground beef and oats, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and combine gently after each addition. Do not overmix. Rolling with your hands, make about 32 meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter.

In a large saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium heat, and brown the meatballs in batches until golden on all sides. Add more oil, as needed. Transfer the meatballs to the pan with the sauce and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve over noodles or rice.

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