Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Lighten Up!

Polpettini di Manzo & Finnocchio, con Cavolo Rapa, Porro, Limone & Aneto
Mini Beef & Fennel Patties, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lemon & Dill

A quick and light supper was my plan for this evening... I got home a little later than usual after working on location at a food photo-shoot and had been nibbling on and off all day... and was feeling guilty! But still... despite the guilt... I was still feeling HUNGRY!

So, as always, improvisation was the hero of the day and the best ingredient in this dish. I had one last hamburger-sized portion of ground beef left over from my escapades on Sunday, which I had been planning on using to make some kind of sauce... but I had actually already done that! Duh! Change of plan! With a subconscious desire for some "salsiccia", some real Italian sausage, with fennel and peppers and red wine, I came up with these little meatballs with all of the same flavors, in no time at all... And the kohlrabi- well to steam it and flavor it with lemon, butter and dill was just the perfect addition! Oh yes- it was very, very nice indeed!

To make the little patties, I added a tablespoon of bread crumbs, a little chopped onion, some finely chopped parsley, a tablespoon of Grana cheese, and a tablespoon of yogurt to the ground beef. Again- this was to make a single serving, out of just one good handful of ground meat. I added a teaspoon of fennel seeds, a pinch of oregano, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne as seasoning and kneaded everything together into a smooth blend. 

The yogurt was simply there to soak together with the bread crumbs and make the mixture a little bit more moist... it was an experiment as I thought an egg would add too much moisture for such a small amount of meat. But it was an experiment that worked! In fact, the mixture was a little too firm for my liking, so I added just a tiny splash of red wine too- now I had all the flavors of my beloved Italian sausage... perfect!

The beef patties went into a dry frying pan, at a moderate heat- you know by now that I think there is enough fat in ground meat that I never add any additional- and began sizzling away gently. In the meantime, I peeled the kohlrabi, cut it in half and then in turn, cut each half into slices. I popped these into a saucepan, on a steam rack and let them steam for remainder of the time that the patties needed... which wasn't that long!

After about 3 minutes of sizzling, the patties were ready to be flipped over and at that point, I added the sliced leek and a little crushed garlic. I let them sizzle with the meat for a minute or so and then deglazed the pan with a simple splash of water. The was a "whoosh!" of steam, but very, very quickly the water had evaporated away again and the meat had begun to sizzle again. But what had the water done? Well... it had lifted all of the flavor from the bottom of the pan, added good moisture to the meatballs and the leek of course and ensured that everything cooked quickly and thoroughly and in all of its own flavors and juices. 

In the meantime the kohlrabi was cooked and tender and ready to get a pat of butter, a pinch of salt, a little pepper and a little squeeze of lemon juice. I served the meat patties together with the kohlrabi and leek with a sprinkle of fresh dill and a little very finely chopped lemon zest- the combination was terrific! But, you know what? Don't take my word for it! Follow my example instead and find out!

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