Sephardic Meatballs

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Meatball dishes are popular in many cuisines and some of the earliest meatball recipes can be found in cookbooks dating back to medieval times.

These Sephardic Meatballs date back from the time the Jews were living in Iberia during Arabic rule. They were introduced to the meatball stew concept the Arabic introduced to Spain and Portugal. Sephardic Jews who fled Iberia during the Medieval Inquisitions from the 13th-15th century created their own versions and carried their recipes with them from place to place.

The following recipe comes from Omri’s family and these meatballs are really what you call ‘food for the soul’. They make a great addition to any meal and can be served by themselves or with rice or pasta. They are tender, spicy, savory and super juicy.

The meatballs are made with ground beef and rice. First they are fried and then added to a thick spicy broth sauce and heated to absorb all the flavors of the sauce. This surely will be a recipe you will make again, whether it’s for Shabbat, a dinner party, New Years Eve or any other occasion. Enjoy!

Sephardic Meatballs

Servings 4 people
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 500 gram ground beef
  • 2 slices bread soak in water and then "squeeze" it to get the water out
  • ½ cup rice uncooked
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 potato without skin grated in a cheese grater, the thin part
  • parsley or any herb you like
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • corn semolina
  • spices paprika, cayenne, curcuma, garlic, or any you like.

Instructions

  • Mix all the ingredients with salt and pepper and really get it all together to become one solid mix.
  • Mix one egg in a bowl. This you will use to cover the meatballs with before dipping them in the corn semolina. Fill up another bowl with some semolina.
  • Make small balls from the mixture (they almost double their size while cooking. Dip the balls one by one in egg and then you cover them with semolina or corn semolina and you set them aside on a plate until you finish making them all.
  • Add oil to a skillet (just enough for the meatball to be halfway in it) and warm it up. Add the meatballs and cook them until the color is changing to golden from both sides. Take them out of the pan. (do not try to eat them because remember we put uncooked rice before, so wait patiently it will be worth it)
  • Add oil to a deep pot or skillet with just enough oil to cover the bottom, from here its really free styling with the spices. You can add any type of spices you like to create that desired flavor. We used sweet paprika, spicy paprika, curcuma and garlic. Cook the spices a bit to "open" them up. After the spices are well incorporated with the oil you add 2 cups of water. We like to use vegetable stock because it's adding so much more flavor.
    Add the meatballs inside the pan and give them a lot of loving when you covering them with the sauce.
  • Put the lid on the pan and let it cook 40 minutes on low heat. Check now and then if the water level is good and if needed add a bit more, don't let it go dry! The meatballs will "drink" the water because of the rice inside of them.
  • Serve with rice and any vegetable you like. We like to add curcuma to the rice for extra flavor and it creates this exotic yellow colour!
    Sephardic Meatballs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Israeli
Keyword: Israeli, Jewish, Meatballs

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