Herbed Meatballs and Stuffed Onions with Cherries

Herbed Meatballs and Stuffed Onions with Cherries Ronit PensoMeatballs cooked with cherries, are known in the Persian, Bukharin and Georgian cuisines. Stuffed onions are also known in these cuisines, and in the Turkish and Greek ones as well. In the following dish, I took the liberty of combining all the above into a free-style version, while using different seasoning and mixing the two dishes in the same pot.
The result was very tasty; the two dishes complemented each other, and having both dishes in one pot made for easy entertaining. The fact that the dish tastes even better after a day in the fridge, made it even more entertaining-friendly.  Try it and enjoy.

Notes:
* As with any ground meats, I recommend grinding it at home. This way you have full control over the freshness and type of meat you’re using.
* I’ve used a mixture of ground beef shoulder and center cut shank, with the bone marrow (about 3 Tbs) chopped in. If you use other cut, add a bit of fat to the meat when grinding. Lamb is also a wonderful option.

Makes: 6-8
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 2½ hours

Ingredients:
For the meat mix:
1.8 Lbs (800 grams) ground beef (see notes)
1 small onion, chopped
¾ cup chopped mixed parsley, mint and celery leaves
1 Tbs salt
½ tsp each: freshly ground black pepper, paprika, five spices mix
2 tsp sumac powder
1 Tbs herbs de Provence
1/3 cup dried sour cherries
For the stuffed onions:
1 large yellow onion
1 cup of the above meatballs mixture
1/3 cup Basmati rice
For the meatballs:
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
For the cooking liquid:
2 cups beef stock
½ cup chopped fresh cherries (or frozen, thawed)
2 Tbs olive oil
¼ cup cherries or pomegranate molasses
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs honey (preferably orange blossom)
For serving:
½ cup chopped fresh cherries (or frozen, thawed)
Chopped fresh herbs
Freshly cooked Basmati rice (check HERE for recipe)

1. Mix all the ingredients for the meat mix in a large bowl. Take out 1 cup of the mix and place in a separate dish. Add the rice and mix well – this will be the filling for the stuffed onions. Add the Panko breadcrumbs to the rest of the meat mix in the bowl and mix well. Create about 16 medium size balls from the mixture and set aside.

2. The onion: peel the onion and remove the core. Make a deep cut halfway into it. Place in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Let cool to room temperature. Carefully separate the onion layers and place in a medium pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the onion layers are playable but not too soft. Drain and carefully stuff with the meat-rice mix.


3. In a large flat pot, mix the ingredients for the cooking liquids and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the meatballs in one layer and then place the stuffed onions on top. Bring to an almost boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if needed.

4. Preheat the oven to 200F (95C). Place the covered pot in the oven and bake for 1½ hours. Uncover the pot and bake for additional 30 minutes, basting with the sauce occasionally.

The dish can be served at this point, but will taste even better after a day in the fridge. Bring to room temperature and reheat gently (NOT in the microwave!) before serving. Sprinkle fresh chopped herbs and cherries on top. Serve with freshly cooked Basmati rice.

70 thoughts on “Herbed Meatballs and Stuffed Onions with Cherries

    • Tasty Eats Ronit Penso says:

      Thank you Aki, I’m glad to hear you’ve found this dish inspiring. I too get bored with the “usual” meatballs and always looking for different ways to prepare them. This dish turned out so good, I had to share it. I hope you’ll enjoy it too. I’ll be happy to hear your comments. :)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Indu says:

    What a fascinating recipe Ronit! The stuffed onion is something I have never seen before and looks very intriguing to me. i am sure it must taste very good too! I will give this recipe a try one of these days – I will probably skip the rice though since I am paleo but this looks wonderful! thanks for sharing this great recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sheryl says:

    I like how the meatballs and stuffed onions are combined in one pot. I’m especially fascinated by the stuffed onions. Often onions are diced and chopped, and otherwise largely “hidden” in dishes. I like how this recipe features them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandhya says:

    I love the taste of sour cherries with meat and rice. I use that combination in Mutton Biryani made with Basmati rice and goat meat.
    The herbed meatballs and the stuffed onions truly show what an accomplished chef you are Ronit. the dish just says perfection!

    Liked by 1 person

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