Moroccan Meatballs with Mint Pesto

“These meatballs were inspired by my professional experience and by my interpretation of a family recipe--I have a Sicilian grandma,” explains Anthony Bucco, executive chef of Uproot in Warren. "I like them as a bar snack here at the restaurant because they are fried fresh, so they have texture (crispy outside, tender middle) -- in addition to having a salt content conducive to drinking! The flavor profile is unique and the flavors build as you chew. Bar food tends to be monochromatic, not the case with these! This is one of the few dishes on the menu that transcends season; they are featured year round at uproot.”

Serves: based on 4 servings, yields 20 mini meatballs



2 oz. Fresh Breadcrumbs
2 oz. Heavy Cream
1 Whole Egg
1 oz. Chopped Garlic
1 oz. Toasted Pine Nuts
1 oz. Currants (steeped in O.J.)
2 oz. Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 oz. Chiffonade fresh mint
1 Tb Cinnamon
1 pound Fresh Ground Beef (chuck)
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Mint Pesto:
½ Cup Toasted Pine Nuts
1 oz. Chopped Garlic
2 Tb Parmesan Cheese
2 Cup Mint Leaves
2 Tb Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Combine breadcrumbs, heavy cream, egg, garlic, nuts, currants, cheese, mint, cinnamon, season to taste.

3. Allow mixture to sit for 15 minutes.

4. Season ground beef; add in small batches to the mixture.

5. Fold until mixture is well incorporated, then portion into 1 oz. balls.

6. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes till medium rare. (Meatballs may be pan fried instead.)

Mint Pesto:
1. Combine pine nuts, garlic, and cheese, in a blender.

2. Using on/off pulses, process until mixture is smooth.

3. Add mint leaves and lemon juice; process until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl.

4. Gradually add oil and process until mint pesto is smooth and creamy. (Can be made 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate.)

Notes & tips:
The trick to working with any ground beef is not to overwork it, it effects texture adversely! Also serve them medium rare…

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