North African Meatballs

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 10 min
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Cook: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

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

1 cup water

1 cup chicken stock or broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped dried dates

1 cup quick-cooking couscous

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

For the Meatballs:

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. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve over the Couscous with Dried Dates.

Couscous with Dried Dates:

Bring the water, stock, and oil to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the dates followed by the couscous. Cover the pan tightly with a lid, remove from the heat, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

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