Aromatic Lamb Meatballs in an Intense Tomato Based Sauce
This is one of my firm favourite recipes that I have been making and evolving for about 10 years. I think the original recipe was in a good food magazine and I have tried to find it to give the original recipe its credit but it is no where to be found and as I now cook this one from my head I no longer have the hard copy either.
The thing that I really liked about it way back then and still love about it now is the fact that the meatballs are much smaller than the Italian style meatballs that I grew up having for dinner and seeing in recipe books and that you now see more often in the supermarkets. The size probably resembles Swedish meatballs more than anything else and are pretty much perfectly bite size.
I always think of meatballs as originating as a peasant food packed full of stale bread to help bulk it out and make the protein of choice go much further. The additional of bread also gives the meatball a lighter texture and makes them less burger like. As the years have gone on I have changed the breadcrumbs to be replaced with ground almonds to reduce the carbs and they also give an additional element of richness and sweetness to the dish.
For those of you that are interested in keeping your carb intake low like me then serve this up with raw cauliflower cous cous with coriander, mint and spring onion. For those of you that love the carb then this goes great with a quick rehydrated cous cous made as per the packet instructions and mix in some coriander, mint and spring onion.
Moroccan Lamb Meatballs
Serves 2 (with lots of leftovers for lunch the next day)
– 500g Lamb Mince
– 100g Ground Almonds
– 1 Onion or Shallot (Finely Diced, Half for the Meatball Mix & Half for the Sauce)
– 2 Cloves of Garlic (Or One Single Bulb from Lidl as Per Picture, Half for Mix & Half for Sauce)
– Thumb Size Piece of Ginger (Minced / Finely Chopped, Half for Mix, Half for Sauce)
– 2 Heaped Tsp Ground Cumin
– 2 Heaped Tsp Ground Coriander
– 1 Tsp Ground Ginger
– 1 Tsp Ground Ancho Chilli (Optional)
– 1 Tsp Chopped Chilli
– 1 Tsp Salt
– 1 Tsp Ground Pepper
– 1 Can Peeled Cherry Tomatoes (Or Chopped Tomatoes)
– 100ml Chicken Bone Broth / Stock (Can Use a Stock Cube)
– 2 Prunes (Finely Chopped)
– 1/2 Cauliflower (Finely Grated)
– 1 Spring Onion (Finely Sliced)
– Bunch of Coriander (Roughly Chopped)
– Bunch of Mint (Roughly Chopped)
1. Mix together all of your spices into a small bowl, half of this mix will go into your meatball mix and the other half will go into your tomato sauce
2. Put all of your lamb and almonds in a bowl and add half of the onion / shallot, garlic, ginger and spice mix and season well before mixing together – best method for this is to get your hands in and mush it together to combine. Don’t worry about mixing until it is completely even, I like to see ripples of spices through the mix and then you get nice little bursts of intense flavour whilst you are eating.
3. Take small bits of the mixture and roll into small meatballs. Roughly a heaped tsp amount each. If you have any larger pieces of onion or shallot poking out of the mix as you are shaping into your meatballs just pick them out and discard them.
4. Once you have shaped all of your meatballs pop them to the side for 10 minutes whilst you start on your sauce. Over a low heat add a splash of oil to a frying pan and add remaining onion / shallot, garlic, ginger and chopped prunes and slowly cook for 5 minutes or until you start seeing some light colour on the onions.
5. Add a little more oil if the pan has dried out whilst cooking the onions and then add in the remainder of the spice mix, stir around the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes to release all of the aromatics from the spices.
6. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock (mine was chilled so had solidified) and mix around gently to combine all of the spices through the mix and melt down the stock. If using the cherry tomatoes spend a little time breaking them own to a smoother sauce over a low heat. Check seasoning and add salt & pepper if required
7. Leave the sauce on a low heat whilst you brown the meatballs in a large frying pan over a high heat until they have a good colour all over their surface, will take about 5 minutes.
8. Once they have been browned all over add them in the tomato sauce and leave cooking over a low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced down a thick intense deep red tomato sauce
9. Whilst your sauce is slowly reducing you can organise your cauli-cous-cous or normal cous cous. Finely grate that cauliflower and mix in chopped coriander, mint and spring onion. You could add a squeeze of fresh lemon too if you wish for a bit of added zing.
10. Serve the meatballs with an additional hit of fresh coriander and a glass of gutsy red wine to wash it down.
Hope you enjoy this firm favourite in our household.
Please do leave a note below if you give my recipe a try or you have your own version of a moroccan meatball dish