A few weeks ago I tasted bite-sized meatballs prepared by Fork & Glass at the Chappaqua Farmer’s Market. The meatballs were cooked in a pan without a sauce, and were packed with spices that reminded me of Mediterranean dishes. I wanted to try to to make something similar at home, but I wasn’t sure where to start with the seasoning until I came upon a Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs in Cumin Coriander Spiced Tomato Sauce recipe. At first I thought I’d just use the spice mixture for the meatballs as a guideline and nix the sauce, but ultimate I wound up making the recipe pretty closely to as it is written, though I used lean ground beef instead of lamb.
This is an easy make-ahead recipe. I baked the meatballs in the morning, and prepared the sauce while they were in the oven. Then I stored the sauce and meat separately in the fridge until just before dinner, when I brought the sauce back to a simmer and heated the meatballs in the same pan. I served this dish over plain Israeli couscous, and my parents and I enjoyed it. It’s significantly different than a traditional Italian spaghetti and pasta dinner, but with the same comfort vibe and simplicity.
This dish is not spicy-hot but it is very heavy on the seasoning. In fact, the quantity of spices and dried herbs in the meatballs alone acted like a binder for the ground beef — there are no breadcrumbs in this recipe. Although I liked the overall flavor I think the quantity of spices (a full third of a cup of spices to 2½ lbs. meat) gave me heartburn, something I rarely struggle with. I do have another full meal of leftovers from this recipe in my freezer, and I’ll eat it without complaint. But I will look for a different equation for packing lots of savory flavor into a meatball, with less of the bulk of such a large quantity of ground spices and herbs.