Beef Rib and Meatball Stew (T'fina Pkaila)

Beef Rib and Meatball Stew (T'fina Pkaila)
Beef Rib and Meatball Stew (T'fina Pkaila)
This traditional Tunisian stew is packed with flavor from tender beef spare ribs, cilantro-spiked meatballs, and spinach.Todd Coleman

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

Beef Rib and Meatball Stew (T'fina Pkaila)
This Tunisian stew is packed with flavor from tender beef spare ribs, cilantro-spiked meatballs, and spinach.
Yield: serves 6-8

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

  • 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

FOR THE SOUP:

  • 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

Instructions

  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.
  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.