My wife and I had gotten tired of the usual meatballs and kofte we make. This variation brings together lamb for flavor and pork for texture, and the braise leaves them meltingly tender. Instead of the usual suspects, this dish pairs the smoky pimentón and cinnamon Cataluña blend with roasted red peppers and zucchini slices, which supply the braising liquid as they cook. Different and delicious.
I've included two bonus recipes for the pictured sides, Riced Cabbage and Cauliflower, and Chili and Shoyu Corn.
1 pound ground lamb (shoulder preferred)
1 pound ground pork (or sub veal plus 2 Tbsp of olive oil)
1 medium onion, finely minced
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons of salt
10 ounces roasted red peppers, diced
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced thin
Mix all ingredients together except for the red peppers and zucchini, work for a few minutes until well incorporated (this can be done with your hands or with a stand mixer with a dough hook), then roll into small oblong meatballs with your hands. The salt is important to tighten the proteins and keep the meatballs from falling apart while braising.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook meatballs in batches and remove to a dish as they cook, should take about 5-6 minutes per batch.
To the skillet add the roasted red peppers and zucchini, then nestle the meatballs into the mixture, cover, and reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Season to taste.
Riced Cabbage and Cauliflower
- 6 cups of cabbage, shredded (use a box grater or a food processor)
- 3 cups cauliflower, shredded (use a box grater or a food processor)
- 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 tsp salt or 2 teaspoons shio koji
- 1 Tbsp Shabazi
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Add all ingredients to a pan over medium heat. Cover and allow to steam for 20 minutes. Uncover and raise the heat to medium high, cook, stirring frequently, until most of the moisture has evaporated and veggies are browned in spots. Season to taste.
Chili and Shoyu Corn
- Kernels from 3-4 ears of sweet corn
- 1 scallion, minced
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1-2 tsp chili of your choice (espelette, aleppo, urfa, etc)
- In a skillet over medium high heat melt the butter. Add the corn and scallions and cook for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Toss with the soy sauce, lemon juice, and chili and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Adjust salt and acidity to taste.
Variations & Ideas:
• Meatless? I like to braise new potatoes, small whole okra pods, and cubes of extra firm tofu. Sauté in olive oil until browned in places (about 6-7 minutes), then add the zucchini and red pepper and Cataluña and braise as above. Sadly most vegan kofta I've tried will not stand up to a braise and will fall apart, but these whole small veggies are great!
• Sub Chios for Cataluña, and braise in onions, spinach, honey, and a few lemon slices. Serve with roasted or pan fried potatoes and Chios yogurt sauce.
• Sub ground turkey thigh for lamb and pork, 2 teaspoons Smoked Cinnamon for Cataluña, and braise in chopped butternut squash, onion, and Swiss chard. Serve with cranberry chutney and brown butter sage wild rice.
• Sub beef for lamb, Reims for Cataluña, and braise in onions, ginger, and garlic chili sauce. Serve with Nước chấm, shredded lettuce, and fluffy white rice.
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