Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Gonna take a lot to Take me Away from You

For those of you who still care (Beuller . . . Beuller?) what other ethnic food we had two weeks ago . . . the winner was . . . NORTH AFRICAN!!

Even though I’m a HUGE foodnetwork fan, I really don’t get into the Next Foodnetwork Star. A few months ago, the LOML and I watched as Melissa d'Arabian beat out the spice smuggler, Jeffrey Saad, and after stumbling across this, I thought I’d try one of her recipes (I do want to get some harissa after watching Jeffrey’s final presentation).

One thing I’ll say before I type up the ingredients/recipes. These meatballs were a lot harder to brown and stay firm and spherical than I thought they should have (is that sentence grammatically correct?). I don’t know if I was shaking the frying pan around too much, but they tended to turn almost triangular?? Anyways, I think I saw Alton Brown bake his in a mini-muffin pan on Good Eats, and I might try that next time. Either way, I do think this would make a great meat sauce on its own, IMO.

North African Meatballs (adapted from Mellisa d’Arabian):

North African Sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
2/3 C small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ Tbs lemon juice
1 C pitted and chopped (kalamata) olives
3/4 C chicken stock
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
Pinch ground cinnamon

1 egg
3 Tbs tomato paste
3 Tbs (rough) chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1.5 TBs crystallized ginger
1.5 tsp ground cumin
Pinch ground cinnamon
1 lb ground beef
1/2 C finely ground rolled oats

To make the North African Sauce, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, until soft, about 3 minutes. Next add the lemon juice and olives and cook for another minute. Stir in the stock, canned tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon, and simmer to blend flavors, about 7 minutes (I omitted the wine and just used more chicken stock).

To make the Meatballs, add the egg and tomato paste and stir until smooth (was this where my meatballs went wrong – too much tomato paste??). 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 (was I supposed to taste RAW MEAT???), and combine gently after each addition. Rolling with your hands, make about 20 meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter. (I have NO idea how Melissa got 32 meatballs out of this recipe, especially with .75 lb ground beef)

In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium heat, and brown the meatballs in batches until golden on all sides. Drain on paper towels, and after all meatballs are cooked, transfer the meatballs to the pan with the sauce and let simmer for 20 minutes.

We had this with Couscous (and some leftover apricots thrown in). There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.


jccvi said...

While my sister was still living in France, there was some talk that they would eventually end up in Tunisia. I wanted to get caught up on what sort of foodstuffs I might encounter there, so I bought some Harissa at the Mediterranean Grocery at Park and Highland. Harissa wasn't on the foodie radar at the time, so I bought some in a little can that might have been packed some time in the last millennium.

I found little practical application for the stuff, as it is mouth-numbingly, panic- inducingly hot. The flavor is roasted red pepper, but roasted red pepper that makes you want to curl up in a little ball and weep silently.

Yay for North African food though. Cinnamon and cumin is one of my favorite flavor combinations.

Too bad E doesn't like couscous.

nick said...

North African! Gah! I wagered 30 bucks on Hawaiian...

A said...

hmmm?? didn't realize harissa was that FIREY!!!! i wonder if you combined it with some sort of steak marinade, it would come out a little subtler??

The LOML likes couscous, but wanted me to pick the apricots out of hers. Not a fan.

n!ck, just for you, i'll (think about) make SPAM meatballs with pineapple for our next ethnic adventure.