Merguez Meatballs with Risoni, Flatbread and Ricotta Dressing

  • Time: 2 hours
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: medium

Mr WDC
Inspired by Franco Manca's merguez sausage starters, I made my own merguez, but as a meatball.

What you need

For the merguez meatballs:

800g lamb mince (at least 20% fat)

1 tbs fennel seeds (optional)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground corianter

1 tsp ground cinamon

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

3 tbs red harrisa paste

2 minced garlic cloves

1 tsp oregano

Good pinch salt

150g risoni (or orzo)

120g puy lentils

2 aubergines

1 red pepper

For the spicy tomato sauce:

1 small onion

1 stick of celery

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 red pepper

300ml tomato passata

150ml chicken stock – or water

1 tbs red wine vinegar

A good pinch of sugar

2 tbs red harissa

Large bunch of parsley

Salt and pepper

For the ricotta sauce:

250ml ricotta

125ml Greek yoghurt

1 tbs olive oil

Squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper

For the flatbreads:

See recipe here for leavened flatbreads, or for unleavened use the following ingredients:

250g strong white bread flour

250g ’00’ flour or plain white flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp nigella seeds

 

 



How Dad Cooked It

  1. Make the flatbreads. If using leavened flatbreads allow plenty of time for the dough to rise. If using unleavened, allow just an hour for the dough to rest. For the unleavened, mix the two flours and salt together, add warm water until the dough just comes together and all the dry flour is incorporated. Make small adjustments to either the water or flour to make a soft ball. It should be a little sticky, such that some bits will stick to your hand and work surface. Knead on a work surface until smooth and stretchy. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let it rest for an hour.
  2. Prepare the fennel seeds (if using). Toast the seeds and grind in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Do the same with all the other spices if you have fresh whole spices to hand, otherwise use normal ground spice.
  3. Prepare the meat balls. Add the meat, spices, garlic, herbs, salt and harissa to large bowl and mix together with your hands until well blended. Form into balls (or kofta shapes). It’s a good idea to let them rest for 10 minutes or more in the fridge.
  4. Make the spicy tomato sauce. Chop the onion, celery, pepper and garlic. Add the onion and celery to a heavy bottomed pan and fry on medium heat for 5-10 minutes add the garlic and pepper and fry for a further 5-10 minutes. Add the harissa and cook for a minute, then add the passata, sugar and red wine vinegar and bring to a simmer and cook for two minutes, then add the stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Blend the sauce using a stick blender or cool a little and use an upright blender. Put back on the heat and adjust the seasoning, loosen with more stock or water if necessary – it should be the consistency of the original passata.
  5. Make the ricotta sauce. Combine all the ingredients and whisk in a bowl until very smooth. Adjust seasoning and transfer to a serving bowl.
  6. Cook the risoni and lentils. Follow the instructions on the packets. Drain retaining the cooking liquid of each.
  7. Cook the aubergine and pepper. Cut the unpeeled aubergine into cubes and cut the pepper into short slices. In a dry non-stick pan dry fry the aubergine until browned on each side. Remove from the pan and dry fry the peppers until they are slightly charred. Add the aubergines to the pan and drizzle over a little olive oil and toss and stir to coat evenly. Aubergines soak up oil like a sponge. This method uses much less oil – it’s more like dressing the aubergine, rather than frying in oil.
  8. Make the flatbreads. The dough will have softened while resting. Pull off a small clementine-sized ball of dough and gently form into a ball (further rapid kneading or rolling will tighten the dough – gentle handling will keep it relaxed and easier to shape). Pat the ball onto a floured surface, sprinkle flour over the surface of the ball and pat down to make a flattened circle. Continue to press and stretch your fingers out to enlarge the shape. Use a rolling pin if you like, but all the stretching can be done with your fingers. You could start to shape all the flatbreads at once, allowing each to rest before stretching again. You could also try holding up the dough on your fingers and allowing the dough to stretch at the edges, tugging gently with fingers from both hands.  To cook, put the flatbread on a hot cast iron skillet or frying pan and cook for a couple of minutes on either side until charred and cooked through. You could spread one side with melted butter or olive oil. Stack the breads in a tea towel and keep warm.
  9. Cook the meatballs. Fry the meatballs in plenty of oil on a medium high heat. Do not overcook.
  10. Serving. Mix the risoni and lentils in a bowl and add a couple spoonfuls of spicy tomato sauce and loosen with the pasta or lentil cooking liquid. Scatter these over each plate and add the meatballs. Scatter the aubergine and pepper and then pour over drizzles of tomato sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with the ricotta sauce and flatbreads.
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