Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Sweet & Sour Power!

Polpettini in Agrodolce con Carote, Patate & Pastinaca
Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Carrots, Potatoes Parsnip

Sweet and sour- oh yes, I know that! That's a Chinese dish, right? Deep-fried pork in batter and a pineapple sauce? Well- not if you're Sicilian it isn't!

We have lots of sweet and sour countries in Italy and especially in Sicily- and I have always loved the great vinegar and oregano tang that is so typical! This dish is similar to the kinds of dishes that my mom prepares, where the potatoes and vegetables cook alongside the meat and soak up all of the juices... sooo delicious!

This is a simple dish to make- it doesn't require super- precise weighing and measuring, you can make as much or as little as you want and as long as you use the same simple method, you will be just fine... It's all about keeping all of the flavors trapped in one pot- it's as simple as that! Now- let's talk about those flavors...

There are a couple of ingredients missing in this picture- but as you can see- it was already pretty full! So take heed- this is what you will need to have to make around 15 small meatballs. Ground meat- preferably a blend of pork and beef- 200g in this case. For this amount of meat you will need to add 1 cupful of bread crumbs, 1 egg, 1/2 of an onion, 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seed, about 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan and a good pinch of finely chopped parsley. Then you will need the carrots for a bit of sweetness, the potatoes as your main side dish and a little parsnip... well... just because I happened to have one- haha! Purely optional!

Otherwise- the main flavors come from dried oregano, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar and a little honey- and of course from those tasty meat balls themselves!

The combination of sweet, savory and tangy alongside the plain potatoes and sweet carrots and onion is wonderful and indeed comforting- perfect for these Winter nights and especially so as it is so easy to prepare!

Start off by peeling and boiling the vegetables before you start making the meatballs- by the time you have made them, the vegetables will already have cooked for around 10 minutes and will be half way there!

Which means that I am only giving you 10 minutes to make those meatballs! Simply mix together the ingredients for the meatballs thoroughly and roll them nicely and firmly together into shape. I kept mine small, little more than the size of a walnut, as they are then less likely to break as they cook- and of course because they require a shorter cooking time.

I used my tajine because it is a great way to cook and steam food- but of course a regular saucepan will work just fine. begin by frying the meatballs in just a small amount of olive oil and once they have begun to brown, add the other half of the onion, cut into slices.

Once the onion becomes translucent, drain off the vegetables and add them into the pot with a good sprinkle of oregano- you can use a tablespoon for this amount of ingredients.

Stir carefully and once the meatballs are brown from all sides, add about 1/2 a glass of red wine vinegar to deglaze the base, then cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 15 minutes, remove the lid and continue cooking for 5 minutes or so, then turn off the heat and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of honey- just enough to balance the flavor of the vinegar and oregano. 

And as soon as you have stirred things through... you are ready to serve!

Lovely- with the onion sweet and caramelized and everything enriched with a honey and vinegar flavor- so simple and yet so good!

Yep- old-school home cooking! Un-fussy, satisfying, sensible... and delicious!

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