Harissa’s origins are from the North African country of Tunisia and it is, essentially, a delicately spiced chili pepper paste. In addition to red chili peppers, the herb and spice combination can include such delicious components as garlic paste, coriander, saffron, rose, caraway, cumin, onion, etc.
The paste can be found in most grocery stores or it is also easily available online. It makes a great complement to any meat dish (chicken, turkey, beef, goat, lamb, fish) and works in many stews or as a flavoring for rice or couscous. I would call it North Africa’s ketchup, but that would be severely under appreciating the glory of harissa.
I decided to try to make an African & Middle Eastern inspired meatball recipe using the paste and thus was born these delicious harissa meatballs.
Typically, meatballs using harissa are made with lamb, but I only had ground beef on hand. I feel that this recipe could work with any ground meat, pork included.
The smokey, spicy, rich flavor of these meaty globes of joy made sure the little guys didn’t last long as leftovers. In fact, they were lunch 2 days in a row.
Give this recipe a shot and report back with results. I may make a harissa addict out of you yet.
- 1 lb of ground beef
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup of unseasoned panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp harissa paste
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp granulated onion
- 2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 10-oz can of diced tomatoes with chilis
- 4 large yukon gold or russet potatoes, cut into small chunks
- 1 tbsp harissa paste
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp granulated onion
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp red pepper flake
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp whole milk or cream
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- In a large pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add in all tomato sauce ingredients except the potatoes and milk and mix well.
- Using an immersion blender (only if desired, but I prefer my sauces velvety), puree all the sauce ingredients together until nothing solid remains.
- Throw in the potatoes and turn the heat up to high. Once the mixture begins to boil rapidly, cover and reduce the heat to low.
- In a large cast iron skillet, heat the other 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.
- While the oil heats, in a large bowl combine all the remaining meatball ingredients and fold gently, without overmixing, until all ingredients are well-combined. Form the mixture into 10-14 even-sized meatballs.
- Place the meatballs into the cast iron skillet and brown on all sides, but do not cook all the way through.
- Remove the meatballs from the cast iron skillet and drain the excess oil on some paper towels. Remove the lid from the sauce pot and place the meatballs gently inside without breaking them. Also stir in the milk.
- Turn the heat up to medium low, cover the sauce pot again, and let the mixture cook for 45 minutes – an hour, or until the potatoes are fork tender.
- Remove the pot from the heat and serve immediately.
Your serving options can include: tacos, pitas, pasta, rice, quinoa, or you can simply eat the meatball and potato mixture on its own.
This time, I chose to have it over some steamed jasmine rice with asparagus and mushrooms on the side.
I topped it with a mixture of plain Greek yogurt, dill, salt, pepper, lemon juice, cucumber, and tomato as a nice, cooling sauce to compliment the heat of the dish.