Recipe: Meatballs and more

Meatballs and more is an adaptation of one of my favourite Moroccan dishes, Kefta Mkaouara. A rich stew of tomatoes, meatballs and eggs. I add olives for a salty extra dimension and also use a mixture of pork and beef mince for a more tender meatball.

This dish can be made in just over an hour from start to finish and sits beautifully in the centre of a table when entertaining. I would love to see your pics of this one, tweet me.

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients

For the Meatballs
500g beef mince
250g pork mince
1 Tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for frying

For the sauce
Half an onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
400g smooth passata
10-12 large pitted green olives
5 large free range eggs
1 Tsp chilli powder
1 Tsp paprika
1 Tsp cumin
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper

To serve: chopped fresh parsley and extra virgin olive oil

Method

To make the meatballs combine the mince, cumin and parsley in a large mixing bowl and season well with salt and plenty of black pepper. Using your hands mix together well. Take a golf ball sized amount of mince and roll between the palms of your hands into meatballs. (Don’t make them too small as small meatballs have a tendency to dry out). You should end up with around 15-16 meatballs. Set them aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat a large flat pan over a medium heat (a paella pan works perfectly here) and turn your oven to 180°c. Add a Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add the meatballs. Fry until golden brown all over, around 8-10 minutes should do, then remove the meatballs and set aside. Add another Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add the onions, sweat for 5 minutes or so until translucent but don’t brown them. Add the garlic, chilli powder, cumin and paprika and fry for a further minute. At this stage add the tinned tomatoes, passata, olives, sugar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then allow the sauce to simmer for around 20 minutes on a very low heat. Add the meatballs back to the pan and mix well until coated with sauce and simmer for a further 10 minutes to cook the meatballs through. At this stage turn off the heat. Make 5 indentations in the sauce with a ladel or spoon, move the meatballs around evenly to make room. Crack the eggs into the indentations one at a time.

At this stage put the pan in the oven and bake until the eggs are set. This is the only tricky part as if you remove the pan too early the egg whites will be translucent and raw, but, if you leave it too long you don’t get the runny yolks. You will need to leave the pan in the oven for 8-10 minutes for perfect eggs, but, if you’re not sure just open the door and shake the pan slightly, if the whites still wobble then leave it for a few minutes more. If they don’t wobble much then their done. Remember that if you accidentally cook the yolks it really doesn’t matter, it’s still a beautiful dish so don’t worry, however if you serve under cooked egg white then it’s less pleasant! The picture below illustrates the finished dish.

When ready to serve cover with chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Serve with a green salad and hunks of buttery bread. In addition my feta stuffed padron peppers are an ideal pre-dinner match before having this as a main.

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