Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catalan Meatballs

I can't say I really know what makes these balls Catalan, though it's possibly something to do with the spiced complexity of the sauce. The balls themselves are a mix of beef and pork, with serious quantities of garlic and parsley bound together with beaten eggs. So far so fabulous. Roll them in flour and fry them off in some oil and you have a plate of golden crusted juicy morsels. Mushrooms, tomatoes, fat green olives and lardon simmer in red wine with nutmeg and cinnamon and hot smoked paprika, then the balls go back in. An hour later you have a stunningly good autumn supper, the lovely balls afloat in a richly textured sauce made thick and glossy. It is the spicing that is the joy and the mystery though, and seriously the reason you should make this lovely dish.

This recipe comes from a website but I know not which. I copied it and omitted to add the URL and searching for it again on google got me nowhere. Which is unfortunate as there's probably other recipes there and, if this one is anything to go by, they'd be wonderful.

Catalan Meatballs

250 g beef mince
500 g pork mince
6 cloves garlic
2 shallots, chopped
8 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
2 eggs
2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoon flour
4 tablespoon olive oil (to fry)

150 g salt pork belly, diced
2 tbspns olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbspn plain flour
200g field mushrooms, sliced
500 ml full bodied red wine
400g tin tomatoes
1/2 tbspn hot smoked paprika
200 g pitted green olives, halved
1/2 tspn freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon

Crush the garlic cloves lightly, then chop with the parsley. Place in large mixing bowl with the meats and shallots. Beat the eggs lightly and add to the bowl; mix well, using your hands, and shape into oval balls, the size of a small egg. Roll these in flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Brown meatballs on all sides over moderately high heat, turning frequently. You might need to do them in batches if your pan isn't big enough to take them all in a single layer.

While they are cooking, cut the pork belly (or bacon) into small dice. Chop the onion finely.

When the meatballs are browned, (don't overdo this, they have yet to be cooked through), remove them from the oil and drain on kitchen towels.

Add the diced pork belly or bacon to the oil left after frying, and brown lightly all over. Sprinkle in a little more flour to absorb some of the fat, add the onion and mushrooms and cook until lightly browned, 15 or 20 minutes. Stir in wine, and continue stirring as the sauce comes to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes then season with pepper and a little salt, stir in the tomato, the spices and olives. Finally add the meatballs - the liquid should half cover them, but add water or a little more wine if necessary.

Simmer gently 45 minutes, turning the meatballs after the first 20 minutes cooking.

This made enough for 6 servings. We had it in deep bowls with rice Monday night, again for a quick supper Wednesday and there's one in the freezer for another time. Bliss.

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