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2 April, 2017 07:47:50 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 April, 2017 07:49:37 PM
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Nigel Slater’s meatballs recipe

Everyone loves aromatic meatballs, but there’s a trick to cooking them without the blighters falling apart on the plate
Independent Online/ theguardian
Nigel Slater’s meatballs recipe

There is much happiness to be had from a plate of meatballs, a long-simmered sauce and a mound of fluffy mash. We need to rest homemade meatballs in the fridge before we attempt to cook them, as we should rissoles, patties and other little cakes that seem destined to fall apart in the pan. And once they are in the pan, which should be hot and shallow and with enough patina to prevent anything sticking, it is best not to tinker, prod and poke.

Leave them be, sizzling merrily, giving them time to form the essential sticky crust that will help them hold together. Then, as you turn them to brown the other side, hold the cake in place on the palette knife with your finger and flip them over quickly before they have time to even consider falling apart.

The alternative is to introduce a binder, such as beaten egg yolk, to hold the minced meat or fish together, but that is too often detectable in the finished dish, so a good half-hour’s rest in the fridge and a small amount of care is probably a better idea. I mention this only because it is a question I am often asked as someone surveys the neatly formed meatball that has just collapsed into mince before their eyes. It is often a sign that the mince was too coarse – but is better than the sort of meatball you could throw at a wall.

Test the consistency of the mixture by squeezing a lump of meat and aromatics together in your hand and rolling it into a ball. It should just hold together when you put it on the table. If it doesn’t, you need a finer mince. I made two sets of meatballs this week, one a slow-braised pork recipe and another, more spring-like version with the sour notes of sumac and the warmth of ground coriander.

Braised pork meatballs with rib ragu sauce

Use any leftover sauce for pasta the next day.

Serves 4
olive oil 3 tbsp
small pork ribs (baby back) 6
onions 450g
carrots 450g
celery 200g
garlic 2 cloves
thyme 8 sprigs
chestnut mushrooms 300g
flour 3 tbsp
chicken stock 1.5 litres
smoked streaky bacon 400g
minced pork 900g

Warm the olive oil in a large, deep casserole, add the pork ribs and brown them on all sides, remove from the pan and set aside. Peel, halve and roughly chop the onions. Scrub the carrots, cut into small dice then add to the onions. Chop the celery into similar-sized pieces. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Pull the leaves from the thyme sprigs and chop. Add the vegetables to the pan, stir in half the thyme and cook for about 15 minutes over a moderate heat, stirring in any meat juices from the ribs as you go. Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4.

Finely slice the mushrooms, add to the onions and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the flour, stir and let it cook for a couple of minutes then pour in the stock and season with salt and black pepper. When the sauce has come to the boil, return the ribs to the pan, cover with a lid and place in the oven. Leave for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry till crisp. Add the minced pork to the reserved thyme then add the bacon and season. Combine the ingredients and roll into eight large balls, flattening the top. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Warm a little oil in the pan in which you cooked the bacon and lightly brown the balls.

Remove the sauce from the oven and pull the ribs to pieces with a couple of forks. They should be tender enough to pull apart easily. Lower the browned meatballs into the sauce, cover and return to the oven for 35 minutes. Serve the meatballs with copious amounts of the sauce and, if you like, mashed swede, parsnip or potato.

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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