Marrakech meatballs

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We came across this dish in the simplest of cafes as well as smart restaurants. The taste, as you break into the eggs and the runny yolk mingles with the gently spiced meat and juices, is wonderful. If you like, you can make the meatballs beforehand and keep them warm in a low oven, then increase the heat again shortly before adding the eggs and serving.

Ingredients

  • 350 g lean minced beef
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 25 g fine semolina
  • 1 rounded teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 small free-range egg
  • 25 g butter
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 rounded tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 rounded teaspoon paprika
  • 150 ml water
  • sea salt, black pepper

To finish

  • 4 medium or large free-range eggs
  • few coriander leaves

Method

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Put the mince into a bowl and pound with a pestle or wooden spoon until soft and smooth. Peel the garlic, cut up roughly and pound to a purée with a little salt, using a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic purée to the meat with the semolina, ground coriander, a generous sprinkling of black pepper and a little salt. Mix thoroughly, using a wooden spoon.

Beat the small egg lightly and work it thoroughly into the mixture. Using wet hands, form the mixture into balls, about the size of a small marble.

Melt the butter with the groundnut oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the meatballs and fry, turning, just until browned all over. Transfer them to a wide, shallow casserole dish, or a tagine if you have one.

Mix the tomato purée and paprika with the water, season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper and pour over the meatballs. Cover and cook in the centre of the oven for 40-45 minutes.

When nearly ready to eat, break the eggs into the dish, spacing them out among the meatballs. Cover the dish again and put back in the oven for 8-10 minutes, only until the whites of the eggs have just set. Throw some coriander leaves over just before serving.

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