Short post today, but I wanted to offer a recipe that puts the tamarind puree I recently posted to good use. These meatballs are really a cinch to make; they’re studded with rich, nutty pine nuts, and the sweet-tart sauce, with fresh and dried sour cherries and plenty of tamarind, is downright addictive. The recipe is a combination/adaptation of two recipes, both from Aromas of Aleppo, that beautiful Syrian Jewish cookbook I mentioned in my post on tamarind puree.
Sour cherries are done for the season here in DC; if they’re over in your area as well, you can substitute frozen sour cherries, available at some grocery stores, or replace the fresh ones with more dried cherries, and add a bit of extra apple cider or wine or even water to compensate for smaller amount of cherry juice.
I served these with saffron rice, which provided both flavor and color contrast to the meatballs. The combination was perfect, and I highly recommend it.
Sour Cherry Meatballs
adapted from Aromas of Aleppo
1 pounds ground beef, preferably NOT lean (if lean, add a couple Tbsp. olive oil)
1/2 cup chopped pinenuts
a couple sprigs of parsley, leaves removed and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice, divided
3 onions, diced
1 pound sour cherries or 2 cans/jars pitted cherries, including liquid (NOT pie filling!)
3 tablespoons tamarind puree
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, divided
Combine beef, pine nuts, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice in a medium mixing bowl. Using a fork and a light hand, break up ground beef and incorporate other ingredients; do not overmix or press too hard, as you want beef to stay light and airy.
In a medium saucepan, saute meatballs in 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil over medium heat, until lightly browned, turning gently to brown on all sides. Remove meatballs and set aside.
Using the same saucepan, saute the onions in the remaining tablespoon oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add liquid from cherries (if fresh, use 1/2 cup water or apple cider instead), lemon juice, tamarind puree, red wine, 1 teaspoon allspice, and crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine; bring to a boil. Add meatballs and cherries back into the pan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour, or until sauce has thickened.
Serve hot, either over pita or over saffron rice.