As mentioned on our football blog, we are eating most of our dinners in front of the television at the moment whilst the teams of Europe battle it out for footballing glory. When England played Sweden, we had friends over to join us for a meal of quasi-Swedish food: meatballs with egg tagliatelle, the idea being that we would devour the food of Sweden to prefigure England’s dominance over their national team. Like food voodoo. (Foodoo?)
It occurs to me (as we watch Germany put the screws on Greece…it’s like being back on the trading floor at work!) that we watch football because it makes us feel a certain way. Proud. Tense. Hopeful. Despairing. Wronged. Lucky. In solidarity with the rest of the nation. It’s like the converse of the comfort food concept – having a treat to try and manage our emotional state. Well, this recipe can do the business as football game foodoo (England are playing Italy on Sunday, after all), but I can definitely envisage making it in the future when I need something substantial and savoury to warm the body and soul.
This is quite an approximate recipe and can be easily adapted for whatever meat you have available. We used pork sausagemeat and beefburgers because I’d picked them up reduced at Waitrose and stashed them opportunistically in the freezer, but it would work with any number of combinations of minced pork, beef, veal, chicken, even lamb. The other two portions of meat we froze in separate zipper bags.
Makes 3 portions, each serving 6-8
800g pork sausagemeat
500g minced beef
4 cloves garlic
2 slices of brown bread, blitzed to crumbs
Milk to cover breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp fennel seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
Splash of sherry
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp butter
3 spring onions
Small bunch coriander and grated cheese (we had grana padano and mozzarella), to serve
1. Break the bread into rough pieces, and using a (mini) food processor, pulse into breadcrumbs. Tip into a bowl and cover with milk (as if adding to cereal), stir in and leave to soak.
2. Toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan, shaking occasionally, until fragrant
2. Peel the onions and garlic and use the same processor to mince them very finely, but not into a paste
3. Break up the meats in a very large bowl, and add the chopped onions/garlic, fennel seeds and breadcrumbs/milk. Use your hands to mix it all together, squeezing mixture and combining ingredients evenly
4. Heat a splash of olive oil in a wide-based saucepan, and place in dessertspoons of the meatball mixture. Brown for a few minutes each side, turning periodically.
5. As each batch of meatballs is cooked, transfer to a large frying pan on a gentle heat. Add a splash of sherry to the frying pan and the juice of half a lemon. Whilst the meatballs cook, chop the spring onions and coriander and leave to the side.
6. When all the meatballs are cooked, put the pasta on to boil in the saucepan (see below). Add the butter and chopped spring onions to the frying pan and meatballs, season with salt and pepper. Add the last of the pasta cooking water (see below), sprinkle cheese and coriander over to serve.
recipe: Fresh Egg Pasta
Apparently meaty pasta dishes are much better suited to fresh egg pasta, which has a bit more bite. Golden, silky fresh pasta at home has been a Kenwood Chef revelation. Without the machine to need the dough and the attachment to roll it out it would be insurmountable for a lazy cook like me; as it is it is merely a faff. And well worth it.
adapted from How to Make Perfect Pasta, Felicity Cloake
340g strong flour
1/2 tsp salt
1. Weigh the dry ingredients directly into the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the motor running on the kneading speed, add one egg at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next and scraping down the bowl as needed.
2. Knead for c. 10 minutes until dough is uniform and elastic.
3. Divide into quarters and roll out, one at a time, on a well floured surface. Put the first piece through the pasta roller on the widest setting twice, then through the second widest, then fold the rectangle in three like a letter and post it through the widest setting again. Repeat on the second widest all the way down to the second narrowest setting. Dust the resulting thin sheet with flour, roll up, cut into 1cm ribbons and unravel them again, keeping on one side until all of the dough has been rolled, cut and unravelled.
4. Put a saucepan of salted water on to boil, and when bubbles are rising, add the pasta and swirl with a chopstick to prevent sticking. Taste after 2 minutes, and if not yet ready give it a bit more – the pasta should have bite. Drain (I like to pour the water off into the pasta bowls to heat them up), reserving the last of the water to pour into the meatballs to help the sauce to cling to the pasta.
Distribute and top with meatballs, sauce, cheese and coriander. Serve immediately.