The small amount of beef in these artichoke meatballs helps hold them together. If artichokes are unavailable, substitute plain mashed potatoes. Canned or Jarred artichokes will save a lot time. This recipe is by Nancy Harmon Jenkins from the Devine Secrets of the Mahjoub Sisterhood, North Africa. Note: Tabil is made with onions and garlic dried in the strong Tunisian sun. For a close approximation, toast 3 tablespoons of caraway seeds, 1/2 cup of coriander seeds and 3 seeded dried red chiles in a large skillet over low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool, then grind the mixture to a powder. Store the tabil in a jar in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. MAKE AHEAD: The meatballs can be fried up to 6 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Reheat in a 350° oven for 10 minutes. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days
- 8 large artichokes
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1⁄2 lb ground beef
- 8 large scallions, minced
- 2 cups flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (1/2 pound)
- 2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
- 1⁄2 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
- 3 ounces jar capers, drained and coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons tabil (see note above)
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
- kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- all-purpose flour, for dredging
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 14 ounces whole canned tomatoes, tomatoes chopped and liquid reserved
- Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the top third and the stem off each artichoke. Snap off the outer leaves and with a small, sharp knife, trim the tough green skin from around each artichoke. Rub the artichokes all over with the lemon halves.
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the artichokes and simmer until tender when pierced through the bottom, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool. With a spoon, scoop out the hairy chokes. Roughly chop the artichokes, then put them in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. You should have about 3 cups.
- In a large bowl, mix the artichokes with the beef, scallions, parsley, bread crumbs, Gruyère, capers, tabil, pepper, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add 3 tablespoons of the paprika and the eggs and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.
- Form the meat mixture into 3 dozen tablespoon-size meatballs. Form each ball into a football shape, then dredge in flour.
- In a large skillet, heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Working in 2 batches, fry the meatballs over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until deep brown, about 12 minutes; reduce the heat if the meatballs start browning too quickly. Transfer the meatballs to paper towels to drain; keep warm.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of paprika and cook over low heat until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their liquid and simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Spoon the sauce onto a large platter. Set the meatballs on the sauce and serve.