Friday, 21 September 2012

Moroccan Lamb Meatballs

 I know what you are thinking, half Swedish girl writing about Moroccan meatballs rather than swedish meatballs? Do not fear my friends I have not turned my back on my roots, I will be writing about the wonderful spherical swedish balls soon, but for now I write about a spiced up Moroccan counterpart.

 I cannot say I have ever been to Morocco, nor that this is "by the book" authentic, but there is something I love about the flavours of Moroccan cuisine. I'm a huge fan of sweet, savoury food, and with the addition of saffron, dried fruits and nuts it has every possible flavour dimension in one dish. I know that in Morocco they have lamb called 
Tagine Kefta Mkaouara, which is a lamb meatball dish in a tomato based sauce and poached eggs in the sauce, so this is my take on that dish. 
 What inspired me to make this is that my local supermarket has just started selling Merguez sausages, which is a very spicy north african lamb sausage, that is flavoured with harissa paste or chilli peppers. 
 I have used this sausage as one of the main components in my meatballs which I'm sure is not traditional, but I feel it really works as the fat in the sausages baste the meatballs and help to retain meatball moisture. If you like a little spicy, sweet and savoury with serious depth of flavour, this is that dish.

You will need:
For the meatballs

250g minced lamb
300g of skinned merguez sausages
50g Pine nuts
50g  chopped Raisins
1 egg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
3 tbsp of chopped Coriander 
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp of olive oil

For the sauce

8 crushed garlic cloves
1 thumb sized piece of ginger finely chopped (roughly 3 tbsp)
half a large red onion sliced
2 green chillies finely chopped(if you don't like it hot add one)
0.4g of saffron threads
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp of smoked paprika pimenton
2 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of ras el hanout
1 tsp of lemon pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt (I recommend maldon's)
4 1/2 tbsp of runny honey
100ml of water
1 kilo of fresh tomatoes chopped
the juice of a lemon
3 tbsp of double cream
5 large free range eggs
2 tbsp of  chopped parsley
4 tbsp of chopped coriander

Skin the merguez sausages and empty the contents in a large bowl. Add all of the rest of the ingredients for the meatballs apart from the olive oil. Mix well until fully incorporated. Using the meat mixture roll out into golf ball sized balls, you should get roughly twenty.
In a large heavy based pan (I use a cast iron casserole pan) fry the meatballs in the olive oil on medium until browned on all sides. The fat from the merguez sausage will render down from the meat balls. Remove the balls once cooked and set aside for later. In the remaining fat fry the garlic, chopped fresh ginger, chillies, onions, salt and the spices (cumin, paprika, ginger, saffron, lemon pepper and ras el hanout)cook on a low heat until the onions are soft. The spices will begin to thicken the sauce so let it down with the 100ml of water. Add the fresh tomatoes and honey and cook until the tomatoes have broken down, if you need a little extra water to do this add another 50ml, but the tomatoes should be juicy enough. The tomatoes will take about 10-15 minutes to cook down. Add the cream and stir well. Add the meatballs and herbs, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Crack five eggs into the sauce and switch the heat to low, place a lid on the top and allow to cook for five minutes until the eggs whites are cooked but the yolks are runny. Serve with cous cous.

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