This is not a typical sweet and sour sauce, which is too sweet and sour in my opinion. This is one of our “simanim” foods- foods that are used for the Rosh Hashanah seder with a “Yehi ratzon”- “May it be your will…”
Leek in Hebrew is כרתי- Karti- which sounds like כרת-karet, which means “to cut off/destroy.” We eat the leeks and ask for our enemies to be cut off (or destroyed, if you are feeling particularly vindictive): “יהיה רצון מלפנך, ה’ אלוקנו ואלוקי אבותנו, שיכרתו שונאינו”
When you go to the store, however, don’t ask for karti- use the word כרישה-krisha (not a female shark!), פרסה- prassa (the Ladino term), or even לוף- luf (how it got this name I have no idea- that is the same word as the IDF’s canned beef- Israeli SPAM)
Leeks and Meatballs in Sweet-and-Sour Sauce
Source: The Sephardic Table
2 pounds leeks, about 3 large (I use one large or two “baby”)
1 pound ground beef
1 large egg
1/4 cup matzoh meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch allspice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 8-oz can tomato sauce (I splurge and use the real stuff but I have used tomato paste and water)
1/2 cup chopped celery (I use about 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried mint flakes (optional- I rarely have it in the house)
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 lemon, juiced
1. Wash the leeks well; cut off the roots and the outer layer. Cut the light green parts lengthwise and into 1-inch sections. Set aside in cold water.
2. To make the meatballs: In a medium bowl, combine the beef, egg, matzoh meal, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Form into 1 1/2-inch balls. Heat the oil in a deep pot and brown the meatballs in batches over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally.
3. Drain the leeks and add them to the pot with the meatballs; set aside, off the heat.
4. To make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the tomato sauce, celery, water, brown sugar, garlic, mint and preserves and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and leeks. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 45 minutes, or until the leeks are very tender. Add the lemon juice and serve hot.
Freeze this recipe cooked. You can freeze the meatballs and sauce separately if needed (like when you forget to buy an essential ingredient in the sauce)
I always make this recipe in multiples of two- right now I have six batches in the freezer. What can I say, I have a teenager boy in the house.