How to cook the perfect Moroccan Meatballs
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves four people
Meatballs are a classic component to dishes found all over the world. From the Italian-American favourite of meatballs with spaghetti, to the gravy-soaked meatballs you find in Sweden and elsewhere in Northern Europe, everyone loves this simple, hearty, homely food.
This is a dish found across much of north Africa and brings together some beautiful aromatic spices, rich tomato sauce, eggs and beefy, chunky meatballs sure to bring a smile and a warming sense of comfort to any table, wherever you may be.
What you'll need for the meatballs:
- 500g of well-minced beef, or lamb for a more authentic dish
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- Half a teaspoon of good quality chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- a small handful of fresh and finely chopped coriander leaves
- a small handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 free-range egg yolk, separated from the white (for binding)
- salt and ground black pepper for seasoning
What you'll need for the tagine base / stew:
- 2 tablespoons of good, flavoursome olive oil
- 1 finely chopped small onion
- 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
- one can of chopped tomatoes, drained of their sauce
- 2 teaspoons of clear honey
- 200g of frozen or fresh peas
- 4 good quality, free range eggs
- a good handful of freshly chopped parsley to garnish
Make sure your oven is preheated to 200 degrees centigrade.
To make the meatballs, it couldn't be simpler. Take your minced meat and place into a large, sturdy bowl. Add in the onion, garlic, spices, egg yolk and freshly chopped herbs, and season well before mixing into a thick mush. Get your hands in there, and knead the mixture until it becomes a smooth, malleable paste. Then, roll into balls in your palms (roughly the size of walnuts) and set aside for later.
For the tagine stew, take a heavy, lidded casserole dish (or tagine, if you have one), and heat your olive oil gently. Add your chopped onion, and sweat it down until it goes soft and translucent.
Chuck in your meatballs, and lightly brown them on all sides. Then, combine your tomato puree with your tinned tomatoes, and pour this into your casserole dish along with your honey. You'll want to simmer this for about ten minutes.
Next, add your peas. Stir it all up, before carefully breaking your eggs on top of the simmering stew. Put the whole dish into your oven, and bake it for about ten minutes, or longer if you like your eggs really well cooked.
Throw the chopped parsley artfully over the top and serve, traditionally with couscous, although it also goes great with some flat bread.
Wine pairing for Moroccan Meatballs
Now, this dish is a warming, homely, traditional dish meant for sharing and eating slowly on a cold evening. In other words, it's a perfect dish to eat alongside a good bottle of wine. You'll want a bottle which pairs nicely with both red meat and tomatoes, and yet one which isn't going to get in the way of the softer flavours of the eggs, or piquant spices.
Essentially, the perfect pairing for this type of dish is going to be a mellow, aged red wine, which is soft enough to balance with the various flavours, while bright enough to tackle the acidity of the tomato and the dark, richness of the meat. Perhaps the best possible wine for a meatball tagine is a Rioja, from the north of Spain, or any of the various New World wines which blend together Tempranillo varietal grapes with others, and which the winemakers give adequate time to age and soften in barrels before releasing. The pairing of this elegant European wine style with the spicy robustness of the Moroccan dish is going to bring real fireworks to the table, a meal not to forget in a hurry.
There you have it -- a fresh spin on your classic comfort food.. plus, the perfect wines to pair it with!
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