This delicious Meatball Stew is a tasty Bulgarian main dish that you can prepare in all seasons. The recipe was brought by Stanka Stoyanova from the blog Know How to Cook.
Read on to learn all her tips and advices for a perfect Onion Meatball Stew.
What kind of dish is that
The Meatball Stew with Pearl Onions is a variation of the traditional Bulgarian Priest's Stew (Popska Yahniya) which is made of pork meat chunks and pearl onions. Both dishes are rich and delicious. The taste comes not just from the meat and the onions but also from the nice selection of traditional Bulgarian spices.
What ingredients you need
- First you need minced meat: pork, beef or a mix of both.
- The second important ingredient are the pearl onions. Alternatively you can substitute them by standard onions chopped into pieces. Nevertheless pearl onions have a unique taste and flavour so you will surely benefit from using them in this dish.
- You need also tomatoes: canned or fresh. If you have fresh ripe tomatoes, you can use them peeled and chopped or grated, without the peel.
- Another important ingredient is the red wine: crucial for the perfect taste of the stew.
- As for the fat, traditionally this type of stew is prepared with lard, which nowadays is considered healthier for cooking than many of the vegetable oils. When you buy lard from the stores, make sure it does not contain any hydrogenated fats. Alternatively you can use vegetable oil such as olive oil (the healthier choice), canola oil, sunflower oil, etc.
- Last but not least, you would need spices: bay leaves, black pepper, paprika, cumin, savory.
You will find the complete list of the ingredients and their quantities below the post, in the recipe card.
How to make the stew
The hardest part of making this stew is to peel all the pearl onions. Then you need to mix the minced meat with the spices and shape golf ball sized meatballs.
The next steps are to sauté the onions in the fat and to add gradually the spices, tomatoes and water or beef broth. When the water starts boiling, it is time to add the meatballs.
You can thicken the stew by adding some some cornstarch at the very end. However this is an optional step as the dish is pretty nice even with a thinner sauce.
Find the detailed instructions below the post, in the recipe card!
This Meatball Stew with Pearl Onions is the perfect comfort food for the cold months! It doesn't really need lots of garnishes. It is best served with a slice of rustic bread.
Here are some more Bulgarian recipes that you might enjoy:
Did you like this recipe? Let me know in the comments what you think about it!
If you like the blog, subscribe to receive new recipes every week!
Meatball Stew with Pearl Onions
For the stew:
- 2 lbs/ 1 kg pearl onions
- 1,4 lbs/ 600 g minced meat see notes
- 25 oz/ 700 ml canned tomatoes see notes
- 2 medium onions
- 9 cups/ 2 l water or beef broth
- 2 tbsp red wine
- 2 tbsp lard or other fat see notes
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 10-12 black peppercorns
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp cornstarch optional
Spices for the meatballs:
- 1 tsp savory
- 1 tsp cumin
- salt to taste
- Peel and clean the pearl onions, leaving them whole.
- Peel, clean and roughly chop the medium onions.
- Combine the minced meat with the spices and mix very well. Roll about 25 golf sized meatballs. Set aside.
- In a large pot heat the lard. When it melts, add the chopped onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add also the pearl onions and cook for additional 2-3 minutes.
- Add the paprika (both kinds) and mix well.
- Add the tomatoes, the peppercorns, bay leaves and salt. Stir and cook for another 5-10 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the wine and cook for additional 2 minutes, before adding also the water or the broth. Depending on how thick you want your stew, you might want to add a bit less or more water.
- Cover the pot with a lid. When the water starts simmering, carefully add the meatballs one by one.
- Cook until the meatballs emerge at the surface of the stew and the pearl onions are soft.
- Optionally add the cornstarch, dissolved in some cold water. Mix for 2-3 minutes, until the stew thickens. Remove from heat and serve.
- Minced Meat: you can use pork, beef or a mix of both.
- Canned tomatoes: You can use chopped tomatoes or passata. You can also use whole canned tomatoes but you need to chop them first. In case you use fresh tomatoes, peel them and chop them or simply grate them, discarding the peel. No matter of the kind, always use the same quantity (a bit less than 2 standard cans).
- Fat: Lard is the traditional option for this dish but you can also use vegetable oil. The only fat that is not recommended is the butter as its taste is not really suitable for this type of stew.