Monday, 1 July 2013

Heart o' Tomato!

Polpette con Cuore di Pomodori Ciliegini
Cherry Tomato-Stuffed Meatballs

I am still feeling rather pleased with myself, even a couple of hours after having eaten this simple but yummy supper... because it was quite a wonderful idea! Even if I DO say so myself! In fact- I can hardly believe no one has thought of it before- but upon having just double-checked online, I really haven't seen this anywhere else yet... yay! That makes me even happier to be sharing it with all of you!

What could be cooler, than having a fresh and juicy center rich and tasty meatballs, on a balmy Summer evening? Combined with a lemony couscous, with diced peppers and mint, it was a winning combination for sure! Amazingly, the weather here improved today and it was sunny and warm... so I made a meal to suit the mood- and I hope it suits yours too!

The meatballs were made of the classic, Sicilian ingredients- in this case 200g of mixed ground pork and beef, 1 egg, 1 finely chopped Spring onion, a little finely chopped mint and parsley, 1 handful of grated parmesan cheese and enough bread crumbs to bind everything together. I seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, as well as a nice pinch of ground chili flakes. I kneaded the meat together with the other ingredients until everything was well integrated and it had become a smooth, uniform texture. And then  got ready to roll!

To form the meatballs, I took a small handful of the ground meat and flattened it out in the palm of my hand. I then set a small, firm, cherry tomato into the centre and folded the rest of the flat, patty around it, sealing it in. I found it best to do this with slightly moistened fingers, in just the same way that I formed the potato fritters yesterday evening. My only tip would be... use nice, small tomatoes- you will find that the meatballs will end up being a lot larger than you anticipated! 

I fried the meatballs in a non-stick pan with no added fat, making sure to keep rolling them back and forth, right from the very beginning. Ground meat, even the lean kind, has more than enough fat of its own for frying and it will firm up and begin to brown within 2-3 minutes. Once the meatballs were lightly browned, I deglazed the pan with a small splash of water and gave them a quick roll around. I often do this, creating a blast of steam and a little boiling water, to get some quick, intense cooking happening- which in this case, will go to firm-up the meat and to make the meatballs more stable and robust... and of course- the water evaporates away before you know it and the meat begins to brown off again as if nothing had happened! Nothing except you being sure that the meat gets well cooked through and through!

The couscous was a very simple affair- just a plain couscous, to which I added diced bell pepper, chives, mint and parsley. I seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and a little green Tabasco. As I said- it was a simple dish- but one that was a lot of fun... as well as being delicious in the extreme! Served with plenty of basil, which I tore into pieces before "tucking in", it had everything I needed for a nice, simple Summer supper... and yes, you can betcha that you're gonna like it too!

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