Friday, March 25, 2011

Moroccan chicken meatballs with tomato and couscous

It has been so hot these last few weeks.  Really hot and humid, sticky.  

I don't like to cook when it is that hot.  The kitchen is unbearable and the idea of sticking anything hot into my mouth, unthinkable.  We eat a lot of salads, fruit with something on the side.  But the human body can only take so much fresh food and then I know it is time for a cooked meal.  Something with a bit of substance.  Definitely not rich and creamy, just hot and unctuous.

This Moroccan inspired dish fits the bill perfectly.  The sauce is the real star and it pairs so well with the couscous.  It will probably work just as well with beef or lamb meatballs.  It does take a bit of time to prepare, but you can taste it in the end result.  The sauce and chicken needs the time in the oven.  

I enjoyed cooking these while the little ones sat at the kitchen table doing homework.  Colouring, drawing, counting.  Special times.

Moroccan chicken meatballs with tomato and couscous

500g chicken breast, deboned and skinless
1tsp cumin
1tsp coriander
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp red pepper
½ tsp nutmeg
small handful flat-leave parsley, chopped
two or three mint leaves, chopped
small handful coriander leaves, chopped
slice of brown bread
one egg, beaten
2 tablespoons flour

Tomato sauce
5 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, finely sliced
1 red onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small sweet potato
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tsp sugar

1 cup couscous
2½ cups vegetable or chicken stock
¼ cup bulgar wheat
½ cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons butter, cubed

Prepare the sauce first.  Place the carrot, sweet potato and onion in an oven proof dish.  Add some olive oil, cover with foil and place in a 180°C oven and cook until the vegetables have softened.  
Fry the onion in a little olive oil until soft.  Take care not to burn or brown.  Add the tomato, tomato paste, sugar and some salt and heat until the sauce starts to bubble.
Pour the tomato over the vegetables, add a cup of water and continue to cook for another 10 minutes before adding the meatballs.

Prepare the meatballs.  Mince the chicken, add the herbs and spices.  Soak the bread in a little milk and drain.  Then crumble into the chicken.  Add the egg and stir through.  Add the flour and stir gently.  Form into meatballs and place in the fridge for 10 minutes to set.  Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry on both sides until just coloured.  Add to the tomato sauce and continue to bake, uncovered until the meatballs are fully cooked.  You may need to add more water to the sauce.  Take care not to over cook, as the meat will become tough.

Make the couscous.  When the meat is in the oven, heat the stock and pour over the couscous and bulgar wheat.  Cover with cling film and leave for 10 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.  Cook the peas in a little water until thawed.  Take a fork and loosen the couscous, add the butter and peas and mix until butter is melted.

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