Meat balls, a truly versatile dish
MEATBALLS are not just made of pork or beef. Traditionally yes, the Swedes have made pork meatballs with a delicious cream sauce, the Italians have beef ones with a rich tomato ragu but why don’t you have a go at experimenting with your own favourite flavours.
Go left field. It could be rabbit meatballs braised with prunes and cinnamon, or a Thai chicken meatball flavoured with lemon grass, ginger, chilli, finished with coriander. You could even make Christmas meatballs from turkey mince flavoured with cranberry, star anise, in a redcurrant and port sauce
In Afghanistan, they make meatballs and call them koftas, serving them in soups, like a dumpling. The Vietnamese call them pho, in the Philippines they call them bloa bloa and in Brazil they are almôndegas. As far as I can tell every country makes them, using the simple technique and flavouring them to suit their tastes and the ingredients they have around them. They can be fried, braised, steamed or poached, you can’t fail.
Recently I had friends coming for dinner and some turkey mince in the fridge
I’d had a busy week and had not made the shops so I went to ej walk in fridge with the had none of the chilli and lemongrass I had in mind. But I did find shallots, button mushroom , sage, parsley and pancetta. I was not disappointed, in fact I was inspired.
- 350g minced turkey meat
- 6 shallots, peeled, felt whole
- 4 cloves of garlic
- Fresh sage
- Fresh parsley
- 50g pancetta
- Salt and pepper
- Splash of wine (optional, water will do)
- 1 tbsp flour
- Olive oil and butter
- ½ pint good quality stock ( a cube will do)
- 150g button mushrooms
- 2 good tbsps creme fraiche
- Smash the garlic, shred half the sage and parsley, slice the pancetta really thinly and add to the mince along with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour onto your board or worktop. Squidge the mince with your hands and shape into small balls, drop them onto the floured board. Roll them again, if the process gets sticky flour your hands too.
- In a pan heat the oil and butter and fry the balls. I add them seven or eight at a time and shake the pan rather than trying to turn them with a spoon as this could make them break up. When brown remove them and continue cooking the batches until all are done.
- Deglaze the pan, this just means adding a splash of wine or water to release the caramelised bits on the bottom. Splash the pan again with olive oil and butter and fry the shallots and button mushrooms, chuck the meat balls back in and add a half pint of stock, simmer for 20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add the creme fraiche. Add the rest of the chopped sage and parsley and serve with mash, spaghetti or rice. What a truly versatile dish!
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