I have been meaning to post this recipe for awhile now but for some reason it keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the list. I made it a couple of weeks ago and the kids really enjoyed it. Also, my sister had mentioned to me that she would like more ideas for chicken mince/ground meat. It really is hard coming up with dinner ideas. As much as I love to cook and enjoy trying out new recipes, it always seems that I fall back on a handful of reliable standbys. Many a day I wake up with grand plans and schemes for that day and for dinner, but many a day I just fall flat on my face! So much for master scheming. It always ends up with me scrambling to just get something edible on the table before the moaning starts. I have to say that, alhamdulillah, my kids are quite capable of fending for themselves now. If I say I am not cooking today; they’ll make sandwiches or pop a pizza in the oven ( BTW, Costco has a great frozen pizza with no hydrogenated oils, artificial flavours or preservatives, my life saver at times.)
You will have noticed, no doubt, that I use a lot of chicken. We have cut down on red meat over the years and actually, meat in general does not have a starring role in my kitchen any more. Four days of the week I usually cook vegetarian: pasta, pizza, beans, lentils or eggs. I try to include seafood when I can, but since I am not a huge fan of seafood (I know, I know, I am weird), I really have to be in the mood for it. Once every two weeks or so, I make something with beef. I don’t eat beef mainly because of the inflammation I feel that it causes my joints. I can’t believe that I can get away with that knowing how much my hubby loves beef! He is a sweetheart and knows how much trouble it causes me. He is willing to cut down drastically so I don’t even have to think about eating it or making it.
I do love a good meatball, though. I don’t like ground meat; something about the texture, I think. But, when you form the ground meat into meatballs, patties or loaves, I seem to somewhat tolerate those okay. The meat has to be lean; any fat or gristle, then it doesn’t matter what shape it is, I am not eating it! Despite my reservations about ground meat, I do buy ground beef and ground chicken. It usually ends up as kebabs or other shaped things but usually never in a meat sauce.
Now, onto these particular meatballs. A while back, I had made a Moroccan stew that had meatballs and vegetables in a luscious gravy served over some fluffy, buttery couscous. The meatballs were delicious; delicately spiced with cloves, allspice and mint. I wanted to make that stew using ground chicken for the meatballs and an Arabic seven spice mix. This would be an Arabic take on the Moroccan stew. The seven spice mix differs from one Arab state to another and you can find the mix in Mediterranean or Middle Eastern stores, that’s where I got mine. You can probably mix your own if you have the spices on hand and I did find a recipe on-line for a seven spice mix; I will include the link with the ingredients in case anyone wants to mix their own.
As for the vegetables, that’s up to you. Put in your favourites. I used carrots and peas in mine and served it over mashed potatoes. I usually, put the onion, garlic and parsley into a food processor and just process till everything is in tiny bits and then mix it, and the spices into the ground chicken. You may choose to grate the onion or use a blender. Also, if you would like a stronger flavour of the spices in the sauce then add a teaspoon of the seven spice mix to the gravy as you finish cooking.
1/4 cup/59ml olive oil to sauté (add more as needed to fry)
flour to dust the meatballs
4 cups/946ml vegetable or chicken broth
vegetables: if you choose to use cauliflower or potatoes, parboil them first. Most soft vegetables can be added right into the stew as you cook the meatballs in the gravy.
Put the onion, garlic and parsley into a bowl of a food processor and whiz together till mixture is pretty fine.
Mix the onion mixture, seven spices, salt and pepper into the
ground chicken and mix gently.
Don’t handle too much or too roughly or the meatballs will be hard.
Shape the meat into golf size meatballs.
Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold the
meatballs and vegetables.
Roll the meatballs in the flour and gently brown in the oil,
a few at a time.
We don’t need them to be cooked all the way at this time, just browned.
They will finish cooking in the gravy.
When all the meatballs have been browned, put aside.
If there is too much flour residue in the pan that might burn,
then wipe out the pan.
Add some fresh olive oil (about 2 tablespoons/30ml, or as needed.)
Sauté the carrots or onions if using, till just softened.
Add the broth and bring to a simmer.
Add the meatballs back into the pan to finish cooking, stir gently.
If you are using broccoli or mushrooms or squash,
add those now with the meatballs.
The flour coating on the meatballs will help thicken the sauce.
If the sauce is too thick or you want more sauce,
add another cup of broth or water.
Simmer the meatballs for about 10/15 minutes…till they are firm to the touch and the sauce has thickened.
Add potatoes and cauliflower near the end just to heat through in the sauce.
Check for seasoning and adjust.
Finish with a sprinkling of parsley before serving.
Serve with rice or couscous, or over mashed potatoes.
Hope you have a go at these. You can try any variation of spices and vegetables and the way you can serve them is also pretty endless.