TIMING: 45 minutes, but I don’t think it took me quite that long
DIFFICULTY: Some experience needed
TOOLS: A tagine (type of Morrocan cookery) if you have one, otherwise just the usual
COOK TYPE: Stovetop (sauteing and simmering)
HEALTH: Great. You’ve got a lean meat, olive oil, high protein, veggies, and herbs.
EXPERIENCE: I had some ground lamb defrosting and was working on cataloging the book The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, so I turned to page 265 for the lamb meatball recipe. However, with the book propped open, my daughter and I actually made the recipe on the opposite page! How weird is that, especially that we had those ingredients and didn’t notice until we sat down to dinner.
Despite that the creation was an accident of sorts, the tagine (fancy word for Moroccan stew which, in Morocco at least, uses a tagine pan) reminded my husband and I of Moroccan Cigars, a sort of puff pastry roll filled with spiced, ground lamb which I had been introduced to in Israel and is one of my absolute favorite things to eat. The dinner was eaten up by all four of us, even the youngest, pickiest one. However, you are going to enjoy this if 1) you are familiar with Mediterranean food or 2) you have an adventurous palette.
I also–partly because of the recipe mix-up–served it with fluffy, buttered rice when it should have been served with Moroccan bread. However, I stand by the rice, which went very well to meld the sauce, meat, and eggs into harmonious, hearty bites. Rice with Vermicelli would also be perfect. And I used only 12 ounces of meat because I find that to be enough for our family of four. You could increase it to a pound without making other adjustments, if you need.
I am also assured by the original recipe that you can use ground beef in place of the lamb.
- In a mixing bowl, combine 12 ounces ground lamb, 1/2 finely chopped onion, 2 tablespoons minced parsley, a generous pinch of salt and one of pepper. Smoosh together with your hands until well incorporated.
- Form the meat into very small meatballs, about the size of one of those large marbles.
- Heat enough avocado, peanut, or safflower oil to coat the bottom of a wide skillet over medium heat. Fry the balls about 1/3 at a time, turning until browned on all sides. Remove to a paper towel.
- Empty out the oil or grab your tagine and heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.
- Saute 1 1/2 chopped onions and 2 cloves crushed garlic with a little salt until the onions are soft.
- Add 1 pound diced, fresh tomatoes (or a 15oz can), 2 teaspoons sugar, salt to taste, and 1 small, minced chile of choice (your choice could be none). Stir, reduce heat, and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until sauce is reduced.
- Add 4 tablespoons minced parsley and cilantro (combined) and the meatballs. Stir.
- With the heat back on medium, crack 4 eggs over the meatballs (careful!) and sprinkle each with salt. Cover the pan and allow to cook until the whites of the eggs have set. (If you hate runny yolks, continue until yellow has also set.)
Serve with hunks of Moroccan bread or fluffy, buttered rice.
*Recipe has been changed from the original.