Meatballs is something I haven’t made in a quite a while, but has certainly earned itself as one of the most versatile dishes in my repertoire.
Recently, I came across a meatball recipe that sounded so exotic that I just had to give a go at it. It has a very interesting use of ingredients; ingredients which you would not have thought tasted good together. Things like feta and pecorino cheese, orange, saffron and a mixture of some strong spices.
This is one of the most interesting meatball recipes I have come across…the flavours just exploded altogether and dance around in your mouth that would leave you craving for more!
2 tspn orange zest or blood orange when in season, finely grated, about 1 orange
1 tspn whole cumin, crushed in a mortar and pestal
2 tspn olive oil
1 medium-sized shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/3 cup Manchego or Pecorino as substitute cheese, grated
Salt and fresh ground pepper
B) For the Broken Yogurt Sauce
1 1/2 tspn each of ground cardamom (4-5 pieces whole cardamom) , coriander, fenugreek (5-6 pieces), nutmeg, cloves (5-6 pieces) , allspice, cinnamon, cayanne, black pepper and sea salt
1 tbsp paprika
3/4 tspn tumeric
1 onion, sliced thin, approx 1 cup
2 tspn garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch saffron, a healthy pinch, crumbled
1 small can of tomato puree (the original used 2 tspn double concentrated tomato paste fro the tube)
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1 small pack cooking cream
Salt and white pepper
1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbled finely
Fresh mint, minced for garnish
A) For the Meatballs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the milk, bread crumbs, orange zest and cumin and set aside.
In a small saute pan, set over medium heat, add the olive oil and sweat the shallot and garlic until translucent.
Season with salt and pepper remove it from the heat. Let it cool a little and then add it to the bread mixture.
Add salt and pepper, about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and then combine ingredients in #1 the meat, egg and Pecorino.
Using your hands, mix it until the mixture becomes sticky and has absorbed all the egg.
Place parchment paper onto, or lightly oil, a sheet tray.
Roll the meatballs in your hands until they are smooth and round. Place all the meatballs onto the sheet tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. This can be done in advance and the meatballs can be stored, covered, in the fridge.
B) For the Broken Yogurt Sauce
To make the Ethiopian spice-mix combine all the spices, paprika and turmeric in a mixing bowl and mix to combine. This makes more than enough spice and it is a great addition to lentils and many other dishes. Remove 1 tablespoon of the mix and place the remainder in a jar with a lid and store.
Place a 10 inch saute pan over medium high heat. Add add the olive oil and onions and saute until the onions just start to brown. Add the garlic and once you start to smell the aroma of the garlic add 1 tablespoon of the Ethiopian spice mix then the saffron and tomato paste.
Stir to combine the ingredients and then add the yogurt and cream. Let it come to a boil, this should break the yogurt into tiny globules, and then add the meatballs. Stir to coat the meatballs and reduce the heat to a simmer stirring occasionally to keep the sauce from scorching on the bottom of the pan.
Simmer until the meatballs are warmed all the way through. Place the meatballs onto a warmed platter and top them with the sauce and then sprinkle with crumbled feta and mint.
I didn’t have all the ingredients in powdered form so I used whole spices but reduced the quantity as I have stated in brackets