Those of you who are long term followers of this blog know I have been in search of the perfect meatball for a while now – see these posts here and here. The search is over, I have found the pot of gold meatballs at the end of the rainbow.
They are all in this book – Meatballs, the Ultimate Guide by Matteo Bruno. Matteo Bruno is one of those interesting people who seem to be successful at whatever they turn their hand to, as a film and television producer, restaurant owner or in this case, the author of a cookbook. The recipes in the book are used in his Melbourne restaurants, The Meatball & Wine Bar.
This really is the ultimate guide to meatballs. I first came across the book in the library. After trying many of the recipes, I bought the book myself, deciding it was worth investing in as an added resource for our cookbook shelf. It is full of as many varieties of meatballs as you could think of. It also has chapters at the end full of the sauces and sides perfect for serving with meatballs.
One thing to note about this book is that these aren’t your average meatballs, they are the next step up in meatballs. This usually means that the recipes are the next step up in terms of the number of ingredients and the steps involved in making them. Even the recipes that look simple can be deceptive, starting with steps such as “first make home made tomato sauce”.
I found myself taking a few shortcuts here and there, like roughly chopping olives and stirring them through the mixture rather than stuffing each olive and placing it in the centre of a meatball as suggested in the recipe. They still tasted great.
Some of the recipes we tried include:
- Meatballs Rustico – classic
- Lamb, Roasted Potato and Rosemary – just like balls of roast dinner
- Beef & Veal with Chilli-stuffed Olives – time consuming to prepare, but worth it
- Pork, Toasted Walnut & Honey – great
- Beef & Pork with Licorice & Red Wine – delicious, and just enough licorice for a really interesting flavour
Our favourite were the pork and peanut meatballs with water chestnuts, although we replaced the peanuts with cashews because of a food allergy – swap them back again if you prefer the original recipe. The publishers have kindly given me permission to reproduce the recipe for these meatballs from the Meatballs, the Ultimate Guide book. You can find tinned water chestnuts and Japanese mayonnaise in the supermarket or in Asian grocery shops.
Pork, cashew (originally peanut) and water chestnut meatballs
- 1kg (2 LB) minced (ground) pork
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 60g (2¼ OZ) ginger, grated
- 120g (4¼ OZ) water chestnuts, diced
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 100ml (3½ FL OZ) soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Japanese mayonnaise
- 1 white onion, finely diced
- zest of 1 small lime
- 50g (1 large bunch) coriander, leaves picked and chopped
- 1 egg, whisked
- 120g (4¼ OZ) roasted cashews, cooled and crushed
- sesame oil
- bean sprouts (optional)
- 2 fresh green chillies, sliced (optional)
- juice of 1 lime, for drizzling (optional)
In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients (except the nuts and sesame oil) and season with a pinch of white pepper and salt. Set the mixture aside to cool in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour. This will allow the aromatics to infuse into the pork.
Remove the mixture from the refrigerator, add the nuts and combine. Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls.
Heat a drizzle of sesame oil in an ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. Introduce the meatballs a few at a time into the hot pan, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Constantly move the pan in a circling motion. This will help the balls roll around the pan and achieve a nice even brown colour. You can do this in stages. This should take 3-5 minutes.
Once each ball has colour, add them all to the pan, transfer to the humid oven and cook for 8 minutes.
Serve immediately on lettuce leaves.
Note: You can buy the nuts already roasted, but if you want to do them yourself, simply spread them out on a roasting tray and bake them in a dry oven at 160°C (315°F) for about 15 minutes.
Note: For extra crunch and heat, add bean sprouts, some grated ginger and sliced green chilli to the lettuce leaves with the meatballs. Drizzle with lime juice.
(This recipe appears on page 70 of the Meatballs book)
One disadvantage of making meatballs is that they can be quite time consuming, all that shaping and rolling. I have to admit I got bored part way through making the Rustico meatballs from the book, so I turned the remaining portion of the mixture into a meatloaf, with a little sauce spooned over the top. Also very tasty, and a lot quicker!
Meatballs: The Ultimate Guide is available online and in bookstores (and in my local library).
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