Pan-Braised Meatballs

The weather is getting cooler, and my wife and I had gotten tired of the usual meatballs and kofte we make. This variation brings together lamb for flavor and pork for texture, and the braise leaves them meltingly tender. Instead of the usual suspects, this dish pairs the smoky pimentón and cinnamon Cataluña blend with roasted red peppers and zucchini slices, which supply the braising liquid as they cook. Different and delicious.

Cataluña N.22 – Recipe by Christian Leue

Serves 4-6


1 pound ground lamb (shoulder preferred)
1 pound ground pork (or sub veal plus 2 Tablespoons of olive oil)
1 medium onion, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Cataluña
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons of salt
10 ounces roasted red peppers, diced
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced thin
Olive oil


1) Mix all ingredients together except for the red peppers and zucchini, work for a few minutes until well incorporated (this can be done with your hands or with a stand mixer with a dough hook), then roll into small oblong meatballs with your hands. The salt is important to tighten the proteins and keep the meatballs from falling apart while braising.

2) Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook meatballs in batches and remove to a dish as they cook, should take about 5-6 minutes per batch.

3) To the skillet add the roasted red peppers and zucchini, then nestle the meatballs into the mixture, cover, and reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Season to taste.

Pictured side dishes

Riced Cabbage and Cauliflower

6 cups of cabbage, shredded (use a box grater or a food processor)
3 cups cauliflower, shredded (use a box grater or a food processor)
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 teaspoon salt or 2 teaspoons shio koji
1 Tablespoon Shabazi
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Add all ingredients to a pan over medium heat. Cover and allow to steam for 20 minutes. Uncover and raise the heat to medium high, cook, stirring frequently, until most of the moisture has evaporated and veggies are browned in spots. Season to taste.

Chili and Shoyu Corn

Kernels from 3-4 ears of sweet corn
1 scallion, minced
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons chili of your choice (espelette, aleppo, urfa, etc)

In a skillet over medium high heat melt the butter. Add the corn and scallions and cook for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Toss with the soy sauce, lemon juice, and chili and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Adjust salt and acidity to taste.

Fun to try

• Play with the spices and vegetables used for braising. Some great combinations:

• Sub Chios for Cataluña, and braise in onions, spinach, honey, and a few lemon slices. Serve with roasted or pan fried potatoes and Chios yogurt sauce.

• Sub ground turkey thigh for lamb and pork, 2 teaspoons Smoked Cinnamon for Cataluña, and braise in chopped butternut squash, onion, and swiss chard. Serve with cranberry chutney and brown butter sage wild rice.

• Sub beef for lamb, Reims for Cataluña, and braise in onions, ginger, and garlic chili sauce. Serve with Nước chấm, shredded lettuce, and fluffy white rice.


Past October Recipes

2017 – Crispy Pineapple Pork Shoulder

2016 – Autumn Margarita


Food images and recipe © Christian Leue

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