Saturday, 25 September 2010

Spaghetti meatballs with preserved lemons

Not surprisingly, I'm always on the lookout for interesting food stuff - new ingredients, spices, and the like. Living in Brighton, there is a great choice around already, however me being the geek I am, online shopping is so much more appealing to me.

So I was pretty thrilled when I discovered Steenberg's online shop - organic fairtrade spices, condiments, baking ingredients and more. I just love it!

Of course I couldn't leave their site without ordering at least a few tiny little jars of spices, and I fully expect to stock my kitchen with a lot more of their offerings.
This time around, however, I restricted myself to Harissa with Rose (still waiting to be tested ... I'm thinking lamb tagine, maybe?), Cayenne Pepper (first used in this mornings breakfast of a tuna-and-tomato wrap), semolina flour (to go into my next bread) and a glass of preserved lemons.

Preserved lemons have been calling out to me for a long time. Having finally acquired a glass of them, I just had to do something with them, and since I'd already settled on Spaghetti with meatballs for today's dinner, that's where they went. Basically, I replaced the capers I'd otherwise have used with one tiny chopped lemon. Which worked GREAT, I'm happy to say.

The idea of this dish is to combine a rather fruity and a bit tangy sauce with the meatballs more on the salty and spicy side, and for me, this worked really well.

Spaghetti with meatballs, lemony version

500g lean beef mince
1 can of chopped tomatoes
a twig of rosemary
1 big clove of garlic
3-4 anchovy fillets
1 medium-hot green chili
1 medium onion
1/2 glass of red wine
1/2 - 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 chili (I used a mild-ish sort today)
a good pinch of cayenne pepper
1 very small preserved lemon (mine would have just snugly fit onto a teaspoon)
3-4 dried tomatoes in oil
sea salt
black pepper

Chop up the one half of the onion, the garlic and the chili. Heat olive oil in a skillet, put in the onions and reduce to medium heat. Cook until they start to go tender, add garlic and chili, fry for a another couple of minutes. Pour in the wine, let it cook for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes.
Reduce the heat, and add the finely chopped dried tomatoes and preserved lemon - according to taste, you might want to just use the peel; I went for the whole lemon.
Add the sugar (it should soften the sharpness of the lemon, but you don't want it sweet), salt and pepper.
Let the sauce simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, chop the anchovies, half of the garlic, the other half of the onion, and the rosemary very finely and mix with the beef mince. Add salt, cayenne and black pepper to taste. (If you like your meat-balls a bit fluffier, add some bread-crumbs and an egg to the mix; I left this out today). Use a teaspoon to form regular balls, add to the sauce after 30 minutes, put a lid on your pot and let it simmer for another 15 - 20 minutes.

Serve with spaghetti cooked al dente, and grated parmesan.

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