Boulettes épicées en bouillon

Spicy meatballs in broth

These meatballs are made with a combination of ground beef and pork sausage meat flavored with red onion, garlic, ground cumin, crushed coriander seeds, cayenne and cilantro, and served in homemade chicken broth with cream and fresh dill. Making the meatballs is both easy and fun — the whole family can join in.

For success, use high-quality sausage, for example Italian sausages or saucisses de Toulouse. You will cut away the casings to retrieve the meat. Alternatively, if you have a good source, you can use sausage meat sans casings. The ground beef should be fresh, with low to medium fat content, as there is already plenty of fat in the sausages. And the ground coriander will be highly superior if you grind the seeds yourself — I use a coffee grinder.

There are many ways to create these meatballs, and I do it differently pretty much every time. Sometimes I include breadcrumbs or rice, and/or an egg. Sometimes I vary the spices and herbs. The balance of meats is also variable, although I generally use a bit more beef than pork. You can follow the recipe as is or tweak it, using your imagination.

One quirk of this recipe is that the meatballs are lightly browned in the oven before going into the broth. This has the advantage of ensuring that the meatballs keep their shape. The broth is gently heated with cream — crème fraîche if available, otherwise heavy cream or sour cream — before the meatballs are added. Fresh dill is snipped on at the end.

This recipe is easiest if you have homemade chicken broth on hand. I tend make a big batch of it every time we finish a rotisserie chicken from the market (immerse the carcass in a big pot of water with an onion, a carrot, some tarragon, salt and pepper, simmer for an hour, then drain through a colander). I then freeze the broth in small quantities for later use. You can also start with a fresh chicken leg or breast, as in this recipe.

The meatballs may be served as is or over rice. The quantities below will serve 2-3 people.

10 ounces (280 g) ground beef
7 ounces (200 g) pork sausage (see above)
1 red onion or 2 shallots, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander seeds
1 dried cayenne pepper, crushed
1 tbsp. freshly snipped cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp. crème fraîche, heavy cream or sour cream
several sprigs fresh dill

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F, gasmark 6).

Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Slip the sausages out of their casings. Add to the bowl. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Go in with your hands and mix everything together until well blended. Form into balls about the size of a large walnut.

Using 1 tsp. of olive oil, oil the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the meatballs in the pan. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tsp. olive oil. Now turn the meatballs over a few times so that they’re evenly coated with oil.

Roast the meatballs for 10 minutes.

Bring the broth to a simmer.

When the meatballs are ready, stir the cream into the broth (you can add more if you like). Then add the meatballs, including their juices and any loose bits.

Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Snip the dill on just before serving.

Serve in shallow bowls. Serves 2-3.

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