Guest Post: Moroccan Beef and Cremini Tagine by The Messy Baker

We have a guest in our kitchen today! Charmian of The Messy Baker is back with a delicious Blend & Extend recipe idea- one that'll have your mushroom-haters eating them too!!

We live in a house divided. I love mushrooms and would happily toss them into any casserole, soup, stew or pasta. I've been known to eat an entire side of mushrooms designed to serve a family of four. My husband is less enthusiastic. He refers to them as “fungus”, spitting the word with more than an hint of disdain in his voice. On the other hand, he could eat beef for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not feel put upon. For twelve years I've served beef with mushrooms on the side. It keeps the peace.


When I agreed to take part in the “Blend & Extend ” I briefly toyed with serving him the dish without letting him know it contained mushrooms — all in the name of experimentation, of course. But he has the nose of a blood hound and in 12 years of marriage I have yet to trick him into eating anything he doesn't like. So, I told him straight up, “These meatballs will contain mushrooms. They’ll be ground up so you won’t see them. I’m not pulling a fast one. It’s part of the challenge.” To be safe, I made sure there were mushroom-free leftovers in the fridge.

This recipe is a mashup of Moroccan tagine styles. Lightly browned meatballs are poached in a spicy sauce that just begs for thirsty flatbread. To ensure the meatballs hold together, I used a 2 to 1 ratio of ground beef to mushrooms (by weight). In keeping with classic Moroccan recipes, I used no binding agents such as eggs or breadcrumbs. I wondered if the moisture in the mushrooms would cause the meatballs to crumble. They held together perfectly well.

While I love the flavour combination of beef and mushrooms, I am always looking at ways to add vegetables into my diet and keep the grocery bill in check. However, I've learned such measures are a false economy if half the people at the table refuse to eat it. To my surprise, not only did my anti-mushroom husband compliment me on the smells coming from the skillet throughout the cooking, he ate an entire portion of his own free will. Talk about a winning combination.


Moroccan Beef and Cremini Tagine 
Tagine simply means stew. You can make this mushroom-infused Moroccan classic without the traditional cone-lidded tagine slaoui. A simple deep skillet and lid will do. All you need is something to absorb all the spicy sauce.

30 minutes prep time | 45 minutes cooking time

Ingredients 
Meatballs
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms (about 10 2-inch mushrooms), quartered
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 pound extra lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes (optional)
remaining onion (from above)
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 to 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Method
Meatballs
Place the mushrooms in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until the mushrooms resemble couscous, about 10 pulses. Place minced mushroom in a large bowl. Place the quartered onions in the food process and pulse until minced. Add 1/4 cup of the minced onions to the mushrooms and set the remaining onions aside for the sauce. There should be about 3/4 cup of onions left.

Using your hands, mix the beef, garlic, cilantro, paprika, salt, and black pepper into the mushroom and onions. Roll into 1-inch balls. A 1-tablespoon cookie scoop speeds up this process and makes for uniform meatballs. You should have about 40 meatballs.

Heat a deep 12-inch skillet over medium-high. Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, brown the meatballs. Set the meatballs aside. Do not wipe pan out. The browned bits add flavour to the sauce.

Sauce 
Melt the butter in the meatball skillet over medium heat. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, black pepper and chili flakes, if using. Fry for a 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Gently add the meatballs back into the pan. Add enough water to cover the meatballs by 2/3, about 1 cup. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook with lid partially on for 40 minutes. Occasionally check to ensure the sauce hasn’t cooked down too far. You want about a cup of sauce left. Add more water if necessary.

Transfer to a warmed serving dish, sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and cilantro leaves. Serve with Middle Eastern flat bread to soak up the sauce. Alternatively, you can serve over couscous or rice.

Serves 4 to 6


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The spices in the stew had my mouth watering! This is a great way to add some heat and extra veggies to your meals. Thanks Charmian for adding another delicious recipe to our Blend & Extend favourites!

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