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What I love about these Moroccan meatballs

My family has always been a fan of kofta. We love it and the kids never complain about it, so it’s on our meal plan at least once a month. We normally we serve it with a vegan tzatziki sauce, but we want to change things up, these Moroccan kofta meatballs are what we make.

This recipe is inspired by a Moroccan meatball tagine that I had at a restaurant in France – the same one that served my favorite spaghetti carbonara. Thanks to the cultural influence of North African immigrants on French cuisine, tagine was a pretty common menu item there, and one that I ordered frequently.

Typically a tagine – or tajine – is cooked in a ceramic dish of the same name, but I just couldn’t justify purchasing one for the occasional use, so I made due with my large skillet, but you could do also use a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet, as long as it can be covered.

Here’s what you’ll need to make them

How to make Moroccan meatballs

Mix the meatballs. Combine the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl and use clean hands to mix everything together. Be careful not to overwork the meat, or you’ll end up with tough meatballs.

Roll the mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs (about 3 tablespoons per meatballs). I recommend using a cookie scoop to get evenly sized meatballs, and slightly wetting your hands with cold water to prevent the meat from sticking.

Bake the meatballs. Preheat your oven to 400˚F and place meatballs on a baking sheet. Line it with foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup (optional) and bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. They should be browned but not completely cooked through when you remove them.

Make the sauce. While the meatballs bake, make your sauce by heating olive oil to medium-high in a large skillet. Add the garlic and sauté until it’s nice and fragrant – about 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients a reduce heat to a simmer.

Simmer the meatballs. After baking the meatballs for 10 minutes, transfer them (and any juices that have accumulated on the baking sheet) to the sauce and cover the pan. Let them simmer for an additional 10 minutes to allow the meat to flavor the sauce and give the meatballs time to cook through.

Garnish and serve. Remove the pan from the heat and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro before serving.

Close up of morrocan meatballs in red sauce, in a skillet with a spoon removing a meatball.

FAQs and tips on making Moroccan meatball

What is the secret to tender meatballs?

To achieve a tender meatball there are a couple things to keep in mind, moisture and mixing. You never want to over compress the meat when mixing, if you squish and squeeze the meat when mixing and forming the meatballs they will become more dense. Moisture is important also, the leaner the meat the more moisture the meat will absorb so keep that in mind.

Why is it so important to simmer meatballs?

This goes back to the importance of moisture in the meatballs, simmering them will allow for more moisture to be absorbed. Simmering also allows the flavors of the meat to seep into the sauce adding flavor to the sauce as well.

Is it better to bake or fry meatballs?

Baking meatballs is definitely a healthier option. If you are not able to bake them, you could pan fry them until they are cooked through before transferring to the sauce to simmer.

Close up of Moroccan meatballs and white rice, garnished with chopped fresh parsley.

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Moroccan Meatballs

Seasoned with warm spices and simmered in a zesty tomato sauce, these Moroccan meatballs are full of flavor and easy enough for a weeknight meal. Serve with a side of rice or couscous and roasted carrots for a complete meal.

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Moroccan

Ingredients

Scale

For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground lamb (or beef)
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon all-spice
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 23 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 15-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  2. Combine meatball ingredient in a large mixing bowl and mix until combined. Roll mixture into meatballs and place on a baking sheet. Roast meatballs for 10 minutes.
  3. While meatballs are baking, heat a large skillet to medium-high. Add olive oil and sauté garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining sauce ingredients bring to a simmer.
  4. When meatballs have cooked for 10 minutes, transfer them and any drippings that have accumulated on the baking sheet to the sauce and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165˚F.
  5. Remove from heat and garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

Keywords: moroccan meatballs, moroccan meatball, kofta metaballs, meatball tagine, tagine recipe

Last Updated on November 23, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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