Thursday, 3 March 2011

Food time again

I have requests for more food posts ... here goes:


Yeah I know but suspend judgement for a bit. I do this a bit differently.

Normally you'd mix your ground meat, seasoning, a bit of flour, then roll into balls ... this makes small hard round meatballs you can add to stuff OK. Only they are boring.

Here's what I do. I use the supermarket highest quality beef or lamb mince (I live alone so the extra cost is nothing over the quantity I buy). This comes fairy packed on a tray.

Chop two onions (I chop one and slice the other for rings) and fry till brown and floppy. Remove from pan. I fry them without oil in a non-stick pan, then add 1tbsp of canola oil though I prefer olive.

Up-end the tray of mince into the pan in one flat lump: don't break it or anything. While it is frying, chop it down the middle lengthways, then across the width four-five times to make cube-oid shapes. Move the pieces as little as possible, just let them sit and fry.

What you are thinking of here is frying a steak. When you can see that the bottom is brown, gently as possible (you don't want them to break apart) turn them over. Keep turning, gently, until the top and bottom are steak-brown (almost burned) but the middle is a little bit pink. At this point you will find you can pick them up with tongs or a fork without them falling apart - cool aye? Made this way, they are soft in the middle and slightly caramelized on the outside - nice to bite into but you still want a decent sauce.

As chef, you should sacrifice one to taste - just before you think its ready. This is to see if you really need to cook it some more. When you've done a few of these, you'll be able to judge when the sauce should be added (you want to add the sauce before the surface is too sealed up to soak up the flavour.)

The sauce I tend to improvise on the spot. I use crushed and chopped tomatoes, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, as a base. Season with rosemary and a tbsp of honey. If I'm feeling lazy I just use tinned tomatoes. I add directly to the pan with the meat still in it and simmer without bothering too much about mixing (just scoop and turn). Make up the liquid volume with red wine. The uncooked sauce should be fairly sloppy and fill the pan three-quarter-way up the meatballs. But you are going to reduce it until it is sticky.

Add the onions back before you are done and gently press them through the sauce. Make sure everything is heated through. Serve on a bed of spaghetti.

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