When I think of meatballs – and believe me, this is not an infrequent occurrence – I usually picture them in marinara sauce, maybe with some fresh mozzarella melted on top. Maybe on a garlic-toasted hoagie roll. Which are both delicious options, but I am always open to different recipes and flavor palates, if they provide me yet another way to eat meatballs. This recipe has middle eastern notes, and uses bison – which I love for the nutritional value. While this looks like a lot of ingredients – a turn-off for some people – many are spices. You can play around with whether they are all so important that you would want to keep them on hand. Or you can try this: many grocery stores have a “bulk spice” section, where you can get just the amount you need – on my last trip, I purchased a teaspoon each of two spices – one rang up as $.07, and another was $.14! So don’t think you HAVE to purchase a $4.99 bottle of something exotic before you know it will be worth it.
I had the butcher at Whole Foods grind bison steaks, so I knew exactly where the ground meat came from – the steaks I picked out myself from the meat cooler! The butcher was happy to do it. Surprisingly, the cost per pound was the same for the fresh bison steaks as it was for the pre-packaged, ostensibly older ground bison available right next to the steaks.
The meatballs are shown above nestled in mini-pita breads, with cilantro brown rice and a cilantro yogurt sauce. They would also be great as an hors d’oeuvre at a party, as part of a mezze platter with hummus and baba ghanouj. That also sounds like a great dinner, doesn’t it? Most heavy appetizer platters do, to me!
– 1/2 c fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless french bread (I used the inside of a stale baguette that I made into crumbs using a cheese grater – true story)
– 1 T skim milk
– extra virgin olive oil
– 1 c finely chopped sweet onion
– 6 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 – 2 T minced jalapeno chile, after seeds are taken out
– 2 T fat free Greek yogurt
– 1/2 t ground fennel seeds
– 1/2 t cumin
– 1/4 t ground coriander
– 1.25 lb ground bison
– 1 large egg, beaten
– 1/4 c chopped cilantro
– 1 t chopped fresh sage
– 1/2 t coarse kosher salt
– 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
– 1/8 t ground cinnamon
– 1/8 t ground cloves
How do I make it?
- In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the milk, to soften the crumbs.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 1 T extra virgin olive oil. Then add the onion and garlic; saute until soft, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a food processor, place the onion mixture, breadcrumb mixture, fennel, cumin, coriander, jalapeno, and yogurt. Pulse until a coarse puree forms.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add bison, egg, cilantro, sage, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix with hands until just blended.
- Form bison mixture into 1.25-inch balls.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs to the pan, but don’t crowd them – the meatballs should be at least 1″ apart, so work in 2 – 3 batches. Brown the meatballs on all sides, about 8 – 10 min per batch. If the pan gets too hot, remove it from the heat for a while and use a wet paper towel to wipe it down. Start over with more oil.
Original link: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2008/02/middle_eastern_bison_meatballs_with_cilantro_yogurt_sauce