Looking for some exotic inspiration in the meatballs department? Have some cherries in season or in the freezer? Make this now! These are so delicious and warming with a hint of spices like ginger, cinnamon, Aleppo chili in the background. The fresh coriander ties it all together and brightens up the flavors. This is a lovely sweet, spicy and tart dish from the levant region. Aleppo in particular, with versions of it found in Lebanon and Turkey.
Sour cherries are traditionally used, but feel free to substitute with regular cherries and use a little less sugar. I usually use frozen pitted sour cherries because it is always easy to find in my local Picard store in France! One could even use a combination of a few cranberries for sourness and some cherries I suppose! If you don’t have Aleppo chili flakes feel free to use another mild variety of chili flakes.
This is a beautiful dish served either with a few other mezze dishes or simply by itself and a little salad along with some pita or other middle eastern breads.
Aleppo Cherry Meatballs
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup pearl onions or chopped regular onions
- 50 g butter
- 400 g sour cherries frozen or fresh, pitted
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 tsp Aleppo chilli
- 500 minced beef or lamb 5-20% fat depending on your preference
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 60 g grated or finely chopped onions
- 2 tbsp coriander chopped
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- Place butter in a small saucepan, and melt on med-low heat. Add the pearl onions or regular onions, cook till a little soft for 4-5 minutes and translucent. Add all the remaining cherry sauce ingredients bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook on gentle heat for 25 minutes or so. If sauce is too thick add a tablespoon or two of water to get the desired consistancy. Taste for salt, sugar and adjust balance.
- Place all meatball ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine well with your hands. Roll into meatballs around 2.5" wide and place on a lightly oiled plate.
- Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan, gently roll the meatballs into the skillet and cook for 4 or 5 minutes on one side and turn as they start to go golden. Turn and cook the ohter side on low heat for 10 minutes or so till golden all over.
- Pour your cherry sauce over the meatballs and bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer for a minute or two. Roll the pan back and forth to cover the meatballs in sauce.
- Drizzle with fresh chopped coriander and pine nuts and serve immediately.