Monday, June 28, 2010

Meatballs and Mash

Meatballs and Mash
Home Cooking

Here's a brief summary of recent life events to put things in context:
  1. I have just finished 1 semester's worth of placement and for the first time in several months, am sitting through lectures as part of our week of block learning
  2. Once again, I've packed my things and moved. Bye bye, share house and expansive, industrial-style kitchen. Bye bye, sporadic meal options consisting of either edible dirt (i.e. cuppa soup and frozen bread) or indulgent, boyfriend-provided home cooking. Hello to my parents' generous supply of fresh fruit and pantry items
  3. Third important change of late is that it's freezing. Maybe not to international standards but I'm a Brisbane girl. I've been chilled to the bones and constantly wishing for a chance to hibernate. Alas, life is too busy
Given these facts, I can set up the scenario that lead to our meatball creation. It was the day after I moved and I was sitting in a lecture. Someone (ahem, mum) had accidentally packed a lamp that did not belong to me. It was then my responsibility to return it and that was what I was planning to do later in the afternoon. Since I was stopping in the area, I was going to visit Byron and drop a few things off. I thought it'd be nice to do a meal thing and he agreed but said I'd have to decide what to make.

I spent the rest of that lecture Googling such phrases as 'winter warmers', 'fast and hearty recipes' etc. Somewhere, the word 'meatball' caught my eye and that was that: I wanted meatballs. I sent him the request via SMS and started brainstorming ingredients to pick up.

Because I'm deficient in the brain cavity, I forgot all about this by the time afternoon rolled by but he had an idea of what to get. We didn't follow any recipe - it was a purely creative process (80% him, 10% me, plus a bit of luck) but the result was purely AWESOME.

Meatballs and Mash

Serves 3-4

  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 sml brown onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp powdered beef stock
  • 2 sml wholegrain breadrolls processed into breadcrumbs (~1/2 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce (we used Bertolli)
  • 1/2 tin of condensed tomato soup
  • bechamel sauce and mashed potatoes to serve

1. Mix together the mince, chopped onions, stock, breadcrumbs, egg and parsley until combined. Season to your liking.2. Roll the mixture into balls approximately an inch in diameter. You want them to be reasonably equal in size for even cooking. Coat with olive oil if they're sticking.3. Sear the meatballs on high heat to brown the exterior.4. Reduce the heat and add the pasta sauce and tomato soup. Simmer until meatballs are cooked. Alternatively, you can cook in a slow-cooker until tender (3-4 hours).5. We made mashed potatoes with boiled potatoes, butter and cream.6. As well as this, we put together a quick bechamel by cooking a knob of butter and some flour in a small saucepan until it formed a dough and slowly mixing in milk until it was a saucy consistency.7. Serve the meatballs over the mash with some bechamel ladled over the top. Garnish with parsley.

We LOVED the meatballs. Full marks on flavor and texture. What a great combination with the mash and 2 types of sauce. Good Winter food? Hells yes. More like good ANYTIME food.

I think I'm quite humble (read: self-defecating) about my cooking skills. That's because, let's be honest here, I'm not a good cook. And this is why I'm going to cling on to the following moment of glory and have it forever recognized on this blog.

When I am in the kitchen with Byron, I believe his greatest struggle comes from forcing himself not to critique my every action. Every now and again (actually, quite frequently), something will leak out in a carefully articulated manner so as to not cause me any offense. In this case, it was: "Usually, when you're making meatballs, you chop the onion up really finely". I responded with a dismissive "yes, I know" which really means "I don't care" and "too bad".

Melty close-up

The next day, he admits to me that the larger chunks of onion made the meatballs taste better. WOOOO. Seriously though, I was aiming for a fine dice. For once, poor knife skills carries some benefit.

Enough pseudo-bragging. I urge you, make some meatballs this week. Today in fact.

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