Wednesday, 7 December 2011

When only the ultimate in comfort food will do...

You know when you've had one of those days? There are times when only the tastiest nicest food will do and it doesn't matter if it takes a while to make.  It just needs to be substntial and taste amazing.

When I'm faced with times like these, I often turn to meatballs. On this particular occasion, I needed something that was slightly spiced, rich in flavour and in a quantity that would probably feed two people.  I know it's greedy, but hey - I'd had one of those days and this was my remedy.

Moroccan meatballs with spicy tomato sauce
Serves around 4

For the meatballs

500g minced lamb
4 cream crackers
1 egg
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Pinch salt
Black pepper

For the spicy tomato sauce

2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp chilli flakes

To serve

Whatever you like really! I like it with pitta bread and salad - like the poshest, nicest kebab you've ever had.  Or with couscous, plain or with chopped fresh coriander. Also good with greek yogurt.

1. Make the meatballs. Place the minced beef in a large mixing bowl. Place the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan and toast lightly over a low heat for a couple of minutes. Take of the heat and grind to a fairly fine powder in a pestle and mortar. Blitz the crackers in a blender to form a fairly fine powder.  Add the spices, garlic and blitzed crackers to the bowl with the minced lamb. Add the egg to the bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together so that everything is thoroughly combined.  Leave to rest for half an hour in the fridge to allow the flavours to develop.
2. After half an hour, take the meatball mixture out of the fridge and shape into meatballs.  They should be an inch to an inch and a half in diameter.
3. Heat a tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet (with a lid) over a medium heat.  When hot, place the meatballs in the pan, place the lids on, and leave to cook for between 4 - 5 minutes. Leaving the lid on creates a kind of oven inside the pan and allows the egg to solidify so that they retain their meatball shape.  After 4 - 5 minutes, turn the meatballs, replace the lid and leave to cook for a further 3 minutes.
4. Add all of the ingredients for the spicy tomato sauce. Stir to combine, place the lid on, and simmer for around half an hour or until the tomato sauce takes on a kind of velvety texture.
5. Serve the meatballs how you wish!

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