Thursday, 7 April 2011

Goodness! Gracious! Great Balls of Meat!

Scrumptious Summer Meatballs

Everybody loves burgers in the Summertime and meatballs are also a universally loved comfort-food in the colder months. So I wanted to set out to create some simple and inexpensive dishes, making used of some ground pork and come up with something new and "exciting". At the same time, being a single guy, I often face the same dilemma that many of you do: if I go ahead and prepare a meal that's worth making- who is going to eat it all? Basically it always means the same thing. Leftovers. Which doesn't have to be a bad thing. But you can also make it into a GOOD thing... I managed to make 3 different meals out of the same basic ingredients. And this is how you do it...

Mediterranean Sweet 'n' Sour Pork with Glazed Apples & Tarragon

The meatballs were a standard mix of ground meat, egg, breadcrumbs, chopped onion, salt an pepper. My Idea was to make a whole batch of them and keep the meat flavor neutral, so that I could then make use of them in different ways.

One thing I always would encourage you to do, is to fry your meat in a dry pan. I find that most meat, even "lean" chicken, has enough fat of it own once it reaches cooking temperature and that your often do not need to add any extra fat. Once the meatballs were nicely browned, I took them out of my frying pan and added some chopped spring onions, a tablespoon of mustard, one of orange marmalade and a teaspoon of dried mint. I let this render down and de-glazed it with the juice of a whole lime, tossed the meatballs back in and let them take up all the sweet and sour goodness. 

The last ingredient was fresh tarragon- whole leaves which wilt-down slightly with the warmth of the meat once you serve them. I didn't want them to cook as the delicate flavor tends to not hold up to heat so well.

I served them with a lollo-rosso salad and some slices of apple that I gently browned with some cumin seed, again in a dry pan, adding a pat of butter at the end and a splash of cognac.

A sprinkle of fresh thyme and some red peppercorns... and to really confuse things, a drizzle of sesame oil... 
Well, that just knocked the flavors right off the scales... 
But don't take my word for it- try it yourselves!

Mediterranean Glass-Noodle Salad

 I based this on one of my favorite Summer dishes, which is Thai glass-noodle salad. The original Thai dish, uses ground beef, peanuts, cilantro, mint, lemon and lime juice. I created a similar blend using a Mediterranean variation on that theme... and my leftover pork meatballs from the night before! This time around, I sliced the meatballs up and popped them back in, again, a dry pan- to get them warmed up and toasty brown. Whilst this was going on, I poured boiling water over the glass noodles... they just need to sit in there for 5-6 minutes and will basically be ok. So by the time the pork was browned, the noodles were soft and ready to add to the pan- along with some dried mint, tarragon again, almonds, sesame oil and a splash of orange juice. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and served it on a bed of lollo rosso and some orange segments. So this was my meatballs reloaded- another twist= another meal!

Terrific Tartines
Crusty French Bread with Savoury Pork Topping

Sure- so you're thinking "this is getting pretty desperate now!", what with me being on my 3'rd re-hashed meatball "makeover". But tell me something... doesn't that baby in the picture look good?

This is the easiest of my three creations- but no less tasty for that! A "tartine" is basically a fancy, French expression, for a thick slice of crunchy toasted bread with a generous topping. This is a favorite "between meals" kind of substantial snack, which is probably the equivalent of a hot-dog or hamburger in the States.

The topping of MY tartine, was a thick spreading of sweet, coarse-ground mustard, sliced cucumber, the sliced pork  meatballs and some cherry tomatoes. I seasoned this all with oregano, a few chili flakes and a tiny drizzle of olive-oil.

So you see- there is always something you can do with even the most ordinary of leftovers. Just use yer noggin' a little! And have some fun with your food!

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