There are a couple of things where it is just much easier to make a big batch of in one go … curries, filos, and meatballs if I had to list things off the top of my head. But I will be faced with the knowledge that at for the next few meals, I will be eating the same thing. From living in a household where the only things in the freezer would be ice-cream, frozen veg, and frozen dumplings (my parents are pretty averse to the idea of frozen meals, and frozen blocks of meat and fish), I’ve picked it up and my freezer is only used to store ice-cream, frozen veg and frozen dumplings.
So, anyway! I decided that I wanted to eat meatballs last week, so I made them on the Monday and on Friday, I finally finished the last ones off. I was so glad to see all of them gone by then.
The recipe I use is based on a Bill Granger recipe. With everything bar baking, I use recipes as inspiration rather than following them exactly – I go by look, smell and taste (when its cooked) and this is roughly how I made it this time – as it changes depending on what I have in the fridge.
When mixing meatballs, there’s no substitute with getting your bare hands and really getting in there to mix everything up. While the ‘experts’ would say it is because the bare hand gives it that edge when it comes to taste, (perhaps in extra salt or dead skin), I do so only because I find it therapeutic to feel the mince, with the carrot, the warm onion, and whatever else I have in there being squeezed from my palms and through the spaces between my fingers. And I love the squelch it makes. It is something I find particularly endearing – it sort of reminds me of going to the beach as a kid and feeling my toes squelch in the wet sand. Now you can’t tell me you didn’t like that as a kid.
The same goes with moulding meatballs. I will have none of this using a meatball scoop. If one has been bestowed 2 palms, use them to roll a meatball. It’ll be uneven, and there might be a flat edge, but they are meant to look rustic, because the fact is, meatballs are rustic.
I also bake them – it saves oil.
(adapted from Bill Granger’s recipe)
- 500-600 g good quality beef mince (or a mixture of beef and pork / beef and lamb / lamb and pork / chicken and other meat … )
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- 1/2 cup of dried breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 brown onion, diced finely
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 egg
- Salt & pepper
- Plain flour
- Preheat oven to 200oC. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Add milk to breadcrumbs and allow it to sit until all the milk has been soaked up.
- Heat a pan up with some olive oil. Sweat off the onion (until it is translucent – usually around 3-5 minutes), then add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Turn off the heat and set it aside to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, pop the mince in and add grated carrot and parsley. You can also add zucchini but make sure after grating, drain well, sprinkle some salt on top and let it drain a bit further. Add in the breadcrumb and milk mixture
- Season with lots and lots of salt and a lesser portion of pepper. It needs to be well salted as there is nothing else that has flavour in there (If you want a gauge, I think I turned my salt grinder about 20+ times.)
- Add in the onion and garlic.
- Mix everything by hand. Hear it squelch. At this stage, check whether the mixture is dry (i.e. can you mould it into a ball and it keeps its shape? If so, then forget about adding the egg, but if not, add just the egg white to help it bind). Moosh, moosh, moosh … Make sure everything is well incorporated
- Mould into balls – like a golfball size (though they can be made into patties for burgers too).
- Pop on baking tray and sieve a bit of plain flour over the top.
- Place in oven for 15 minutes or until goldern / cooked through.
You can now use this for anything. Because this recipe gives me about 40-50 meatballs, some nights, like tonight, I cook it in pasta sauce. Other nights, I cut them in half and stir fry it with some greens. And some nights, I just heat them up and eat them as is with a bit of ketchup.