Tag Archives: moroccan

Tribute to NYC: Tasty Moroccan Meatballs

While I truly adore the city of San Francisco, I must admit a piece of my heart belongs to New York.

I recently had the pleasure of dining at The Meatball Shop, located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The LES is everything you want in a Saturday evening — every bar and restaurant overflows with lively clientele and head-turning street style.

I ordered the special, which was etched messily on the chalkboard above the bar: Moroccan Chicken Meatballs with turkish apricots, ginger, mint, and cilantro (among other goodies). I could not resist, and ordered the special along with one of many available sides: “everything but the kitchen sink”, which included an arugula salad, golden beets, and yogurt dipping sauce. This meal was too memorable not to recreate, so naturally I had to jot down the ingredients and try it out for myself.

Moroccan Chicken Meatballs with Golden Beets, Arugula Salad, and Mint Yogurt Sauce

You will need:

1 lb ground organic Chicken meat (or, you can substitute ground turkey or pork)

2 large leeks; trimmed, cleaned, and sliced into thin half moons

1 cup dried Turkish apricots; diced

1 cup of mint; chopped

1 cup of cilantro; chopped

8 cloves of garlic, diced, and separated in two piles (you will use half in meatballs; half in yogurt sauce)

2 cloves of garlic (for salad dressing specifically)

2 tbsp honey (for salad dressing)

2 lemons; juiced

zest of 1 lemon

3 tbsp fresh ginger; peeled and minced

2 eggs

1 to 2 cups of whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (start with 1 cup, you can always add depending on desired consistency)

3 medium to large golden beets

1 english cucumber; peeled

1 small carton of plain Greek yogurt

1 package of arugula

1 package of pita bread (optional)

extra virgin olive oil

white wine vinegar

sea salt + freshly ground pepper

1. Prepare mint yogurt sauce: 

  • Chop cucumber in half; set one half aside (you will use it for the arugula salad)
  • Using a large-holed cheese grater, grate the half cucumber and set aside in mesh strainer over a bowl
  • Sprinkle salt on grated cucumber and let rest for 10 minutes; as the salt will extract excess water from cucumber (so your sauce is not watery!)
  • Combine strained cucumber in a small bowl with yogurt, half of the mint, half of the chopped garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, and zest of 1 lemon — stir
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve

2. Prepare the beets:

  • I initially adapted this cooking technique from renowned chef Alice Waters; it’s simple and involves very little labor
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Remove the green stem and leaves from the beets
  • Place beets in a deep baking dish (a pyrex loaf pan works famously), and fill with enough water to cover the bottom of the beets, about 1/8 inch. Keep in mind the dish should be deep enough to fully incase the beets
  • Tightly cover with tin foil, and bake in oven from 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until beets are easily pierced with a fork
  • Remove from oven when beets are fully cooked, and place aside to cool
  • When cool enough to handle, slip skins off of beets, remove the root and bottoms, and slice into half moons. Set aside

3. While beets are baking in oven, prepare the meatballs. This dish is designed to take about an hour in total cooking time, as the meatballs should be cooked once the beets come out of the oven: 

  • Preheat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan, using medium-high heat, and drizzle extra virgin olive oil in the pan (enough to cover the pan’s surface)
  • Add leeks and stir. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to stir leeks every few minutes until translucent, about 10 minutes
  • Add diced Turkish apricots to sauteed leeks mixture and stir. Continue to sauté another 10 minutes. Add ginger and remaining half of garlic, stir. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside
  • In a large bowl, combine cooled apricots/leeks mixture with ground chicken, 2 eggs, breadcrumbs, mint, cilantro, sea salt, and pepper. Use your hands to combine the ingredients evenly
  • Roll meatballs about one inch in diameter (you can make them bigger if you wish, cooking time will be longer)
  • Use same heavy-bottomed sauté pan and preheat to medium, drizzle olive oil in pan
  • Cook about 6 meatballs at once; you do not want to overcrowd the pan
  • I like to press the meatballs down with a spatula; to make mini-burgers. I find they cook a lot faster this way
  • Flip meat patties every 5 minutes, until crispy on each side and cooked throughout — about 15 minutes total
  • Cook meatballs in batches, covering the cooked meatballs until ready to serve

4. Make lemon-ginger vinaigrette for Arugula salad (this should be done once the last few meatballs are cooking, and the beats have been removed from the oven):

  •   Combine the following ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth: 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp ginger, 1/2 cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp honey, sea salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Place arugula in a large serving bowl, add remaining half of cucumber (slice into half moons) and add dressing (start with half of the mixture and add to your liking). Toss with tongs
  • This is a great go-to dressing for any salad, and goes well with the peppery arugula

5. You are ready to eat! Serve all of the ingredients family style, and assemble the following on your plate: 

  • 3 to 4 meatballs
  • a generous helping of yogurt sauce
  • arugula salad. arrange beets on top
  • warmed pita bread (optional)
  • Enjoy!!!

 

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