Portuguese Meatballs

This dish, full of bright flavors of lemon and tomato, is a simplified version of the Alentejo-Style Meatballs with White Beans recipe found in Ana Patuleia Ortins’ Authentic Portuguese Cooking. I recommend serving this with a good crusty bread. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 6; leftovers freeze well)

2 pounds ground beef (85% lean)

1 cup dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup milk

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

2 eggs

1 quart good quality salsa

1 cup water

4 large yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 can (15 ounces) Northern white beans, drained

Cilantro, lemon slices, and olive oil to garnish


Step 1) Combine bread crumbs and milk in a large mixing bowl. Toss with a fork until all milk is absorbed.

Step 2) Add ground beef, garlic, lemon, salt, chile powder, and eggs to the moistened bread crumbs. Wearing kitchen gloves, use your hands to thoroughly combine all ingredients.

Step 3) Shape beef mixture into fairly large meatballs, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on shallow baking pans about 1 inch apart. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Step 4) While meatballs bake, combine salsa, water, and potato chunks in a large pot. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork tender. Make sure that potatoes stay submerged in liquid. Add water (1/2 cup at a time) if necessary. Once potatoes are fork tender, remove pot from heat.

Step 5) Add meatballs and beans to the pot. Stir gently.

Step 6) Ladle mixture into serving bowls. Garnish bowls with a drizzle of olive oil (about a teaspoon), a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro, and a few thin lemon slices.

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