Neil Perry's meatball tagine

Neil Perry
Tagine with a twist ... Meatballs and eggs.
Tagine with a twist ... Meatballs and eggs. Photo: WILLIAM MEPPEM

Bite-size meatballs with eggs pack a powerful flavour punch, while a simple but zesty salad adds a fresh touch.

I like to serve the meatballs with couscous, rice or steamed potatoes.  The beef can be substituted with minced lamb or even chicken; just don't overcook it.


Fennel and blood orange salad.
Fennel and blood orange salad. 

500g minced beef

1 medium onion, grated

sea salt, to season

¾ cup olive oil

1 small bunch coriander, finely chopped (reserve some leaves, to serve)

1 tbsp smoked paprika


1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground fennel seeds

2 tsp ground black pepper

400g tin chopped tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 eggs

Serves 4

Combine the mince and onion in a large bowl and season with sea salt. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate overnight.

Wet your hands slightly to help stop the meat from sticking and roll into 2-centimetre balls.

Heat a large, deep frying pan over a high heat. Add the oil, and just before it starts to smoke add the meatballs in two separate batches. Brown the meatballs and remove from the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium, and fry the garlic for 4 minutes or until tender. Add the herbs, spices and tomatoes, and cook on a low simmer for 5 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer for a further 5 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time.

Crack the eggs into the pan, cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until the whites have set (the yolks should be soft).

Place the pan in the middle of the table, scatter with reserved coriander leaves, and serve immediately.


2 medium fennel bulbs, halved lengthways, core removed and finely sliced on a mandolin

sea salt, to season

juice of 2 lemons

1/2 medium pomegranate, seeds only

2 radishes, finely sliced on a mandolin

5 blood oranges

mint leaves, to serve

blood orange dressing

4 tbsp blood orange juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Serves 4

For the salad, place the fennel shavings in a bowl and season with sea salt. Add the lemon juice and marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel the blood oranges with a small knife, ensuring the white pith has been taken off. Cut out segments between the cell walls using a V-cut and set aside. Squeeze the oranges and reserve the juice.

For the dressing, place 4 tbsp of the reserved blood orange juice and the olive oil in a small container with a lid and shake. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper, and shake again.

Strain the fennel, discarding the excess lemon juice. Add the pomegranate seeds, radish and blood orange segments to the fennel and mix gently.

Divide the salad between 4 plates, pour over dressing and sprinkle over the mint. Give a grind of pepper and serve.


Sangiovese is an incredibly versatile wine, but it's at its best when paired with a rich tomato sauce. Try the meatballs with Galli Estate Artigiano Sangiovese 2009, ($30), from Heathcote in Victoria.


* The flavours of the salad can be bolstered with thinly sliced artichoke, and parsley and chives can added if desired, too.

*A dash of pomegranate molasses is delicious drizzled over the salad.

Food styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury. Food photography by William Meppem.