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When Anissa Helou first came across the recipe for this variation on a common Moroccan tagine, or stew, she questioned whether the raw rice in the meatballs would cook fully. It does. Any grains that fall out give the saffron-infused broth a lovely richness. More Amazing Lamb Recipes

March 2004

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Recipe Summary test

active:
45 mins
total:
1 hr
Yield:
6
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • In a small bowl, soak the rice in water for 15 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Drain well.

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  • In a food processor, pulse the quartered onion with the cup of cilantro leaves and the mint, cumin, paprika, allspice, cayenne, ras el hanout;and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt until pureed. Scrape the puree into a large bowl and mix in the ground lamb and rice.

  • Line a large baking sheet with plastic wrap. Using lightly moistened hands, roll rounded tablespoons of the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and transfer them to the baking sheet.

  • Pour the 4 1/2 cups of water into a large, deep skillet. Add the sliced onion, butter, parsley, crushed red pepper and saffron to the skillet and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the meatballs; they will not fit in a single layer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over moderately low heat until the meatballs are cooked and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir gently once or twice halfway through.

  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a large platter. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl and skim off as much fat as possible. Return the cooking liquid to the skillet and boil over high heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.

  • Return the meatballs to the sauce and simmer over moderate heat until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped cilantro and the lemon juice, season with salt and serve.

Make Ahead

The meatballs can be refrigerated in their sauce overnight.

Notes

Ras el hanout, a Moroccan blend of up to 30 spices, including ginger, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, peppercorns and cloves, is available at Middle Eastern markets.

Serve With

Pita bread.

Suggested Pairing

Although a red is the usual partner to lamb, the Middle Eastern spices here make this dish more compatible with an aromatic, equally spicy Rhône white.

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