Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Morrocan Meatballs & putting Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals to the test

Day 16 - Moroccan Mini-Meatballs
This week has totally been a wash.  Working 12-14 hours days where each day starts and ends a little later than the one before make dinners not happen so much.  Luckily Day 1 of this down and dirty shoot started at 6:30am which meant a respectable 7:30pm wrap, plenty of time to throw together a quick dinner.  In the spirit of the challenge, I really wanted to try a brand new-to-me recipe and in thinking of something quick and easy to throw together decided to head on over to Rachel Ray's site and see what 30 Minute Meals she had to offer.  While I've made a few of Rachel's recipes before I've never timed myself or strictly needed to be done in 30 minutes.  On Saturday I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was eat dinner, much less cook it but knowing I'd need something to post today I knew I had to.


I searched some of her 15-minute meals but nothing really appealed and alot required fish which I knew would be hard to get something good at 7:30 on a Saturday night.  I moved onto the 30 Minute Meals and was struck but a recipe for Moroccan meatballs that was served with an egg.  Well I love eggs for dinner, at any time really, and while the recipe was new, the method was familiar and I wanted to set myself up for success for this 30 minute challenge.  A quick stop at the grocery store for some ground lamb and fresh parsley and I was in business.


Moroccan Mini Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
serves 4


2 pounds ground lamb
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
6 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon chili powder (about a palmful)
1 tablespoon sweet paprika (about a palmful)
1 tablespoon ground cumin (about a palmful)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for drizzling1 onion, very finely chopped
1 cup chicken stock
One can fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
A pinch ground cloves
A pinch ground cinnamon
4 eggs (optional)
Warm flatbreads, for dunking


1.  Pre-heat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Combine the lamb with liberal amounts of salt and pepper, the parsley, two-thirds of the garlic, the lemon peel, chili powder, paprika and cumin to form 1 1/4-inch meatballs (makes about 65). Drizzle with EVOO and roast on the prepared baking sheet until browned, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a skillet with high sides or a dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the onion and remaining garlic and cook until softened, 5-6 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil; season with the cloves and cinnamon. Cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Slide in the meatballs and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Immediately pour the sauce and meatballs into bowls and crack in the eggs, if using. Cover tightly with a plate and let stand for 3 minutes to cook the eggs. Serve with the flatbreads.
start time & finish time - took me 36 mins and I had a fail with the egg!

I was very of conscious of following the recipe except that I cut the quantities in half so it was just enough for the boy and I.  I rarely follow a recipe exactly but I assumed it was written the way it was to keep the whole time to 30 minutes.  As you can see from my clock pictures I missed the mark by 6 minutes.  I did have to chop my own home canned tomatoes, but that only took about a minute.  I was literally moving the whole time.  I also consider myself a pretty proficient cook and very comfortable in my own kitchen, so the fact that it took me a bit longer means that it will likely take many people longer.  That being said it was manageable and totally hearty.  I LOVED the addition of the cinnamon and cloves to the sauce, it really made it for me.

steamed egg fail!

My big problem with this dish is that the whole steaming of the egg just didn't work.  And my meatballs were super hot and steamy when I dished them up.  I wasted the majority of what I made trying to make the egg work which would have been a total loser had the Boy wanted dinner when he came home. Luckily I did have leftover Mac & Cheese. With the 4 meatballs I had left, we each tried 2 and they were actually quite good, I will turn to this recipe again in a year when looking for a quick meal.

Here's my rundown of the last few days:

Day 16 - January 22 - Moroccan Mini Meatballs & leftover Mac & Cheese
Day 17 - January 23 - Pizza on set :(
Day 18 - January 24 - Fruit salad & crudite on set
Day 19 - January 25 - Pizza on set, again!

Luckily I have Thursday and Fri off and am hoping to whip up some easily re-heatable things for the week.  And have some more interesting thing to post!

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