Beef Rib and Meatball Stew (T’fina Pkaila)

  • Serves

    serves 6-8


This Tunisian stew is packed with flavor from tender beef spare ribs, cilantro-spiked meatballs, and spinach. This recipe first appeared in our October 2011 issue along with Katie Robbins's story Season of Rejoicing.

Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Soups and Stews



  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 2 14 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 12 tsp. paprika
  • 34 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  • 14 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. beef flanken-cut short ribs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 5 cups beef stock
  • 6 oz. spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 (16-oz.) can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained


Step 1

Make the meatballs: Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions; cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a bowl; stir in chuck, cumin, pepper, cilantro, parsley, salt, paprika, cinnamon, and egg. Form mixture into about forty 1-oz. balls. Return saucepan and oil to medium-high heat; add meatballs, and cook, turning, until browned all over, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Step 2

Make the soup: Return saucepan to medium-high heat and add oil; season ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add ribs, and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer ribs to a plate and set aside. Add garlic and onions to pan, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Return ribs to pan along with stock, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until beef is just tender, about 1 hour. Add meatballs, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add spinach and beans, and cook, until spinach and beans are tender, about 4 minutes more.

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