Monday, February 8, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Turkish Mini Meatballs With Pomegranate Pearl Onion Sauce

Tonight's dinner was one of those perfect appetizers or main courses for presenting in martini glasses (a wedding registry gift that had gone unused) - which is one of the best ways to make any small-food look beautiful.  For tonight's meatballs, which are a Turkish inspired food, I used a recipe that I adapted from Marcus Samuelsson's new cookbook, New American Table.  My verdict on this cookbook after trying a number of recipes is loud and clear - it's a winner, one of the best new cookbooks of 2009.

As weird as the sauce sounds, it really turned out to be the perfect combination of flavors between the pomegranate juice, white grapes, pearl onions and red wine.  I made a few changes to the original recipe - I garnished using chives and a healthy amount of pomegranate seeds (about 1 T per serving).  The pomegranate seeds were my addition and frankly the recipe would be incomplete without them.  In addition, I added a diced shallot to the meatball recipe.  I also omitted the sumac and the basil - and didn't miss either one.

Thus, the recipe featured below is my adaptation of Marcus Samuelsson's original recipe.  The recipe served three people (myself, my husband and my sous-chef Alicia, who joined us for dinner tonight), as a light main course (after cheese appetizers).  However, it would easily serve two people with larger, more filling portions.  The sauce was the huge winner here, as the combination of flavors was quite exceptional.  This makes the perfect entree or small plate.

Meatballs (my variation from Marcus Samuelsson's recipe):
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground lamb
1 diced shallot
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 T chopped parsley
1 egg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander

Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix together with your hands.  Form into small meatballs - this recipe made about 28 meatballs, about two inches in diameter.  Cook the meatballs in a couple of table spoons of canola oil in a saute pan until cooked through and lightly browned.  

Marcus Samuelsson's Grape & Pearl Onion Ragu Sauce (I cut the recipe in half and found the amount perfectly sufficient)
8 cloves garlic, diced
1 1/2 cups pearl onions, peeled and diced
1/2 cup red wine
2 T honey
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup white seedless grapes
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1 cup chicken stock
juice of 1 lemon
1 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

As Samuelsson instructs, combine the garlic, wine and onions and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Then, add the honey, pomegranate juice, grapes, thyme, chicken stock and lemon juice.  Simmer to reduce for another 10 minutes or so.  Stir in the butter at the end and season with salt and pepper.  Coat the meatballs in the sauce and serve together.

Serve with chives and one tablespoon of pomegranate seeds for each portion.



  1. Delicious meatballs! I love your pomegranate pearl onion sauce and such a lovely presentation!

  2. beautiful presentation -- the martini glasses r genius

  3. Very very nice!!! I never knew meatballs could look that beautiful!

  4. You never mention how you cook the meatballs.

  5. We cooked the meatballs in a saute pan in canola oil, then coated them with the sauce. I will add that to the post. My husband helped with that part!

  6. These really are outstanding!


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