Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Meat balls in red wine sauce...


This is beautiful comfort food, but not as rich as it may appear.  The very lean beef is accompanied with a white bean purée that has no butter or dairy and the spinach is flash cooked in seconds with only a drizzle of olive oil.
It has all the filling taste needed for a cold winter, but is nicely balanced.

The meat balls (for 4) :

500 g / 1 lb lean minced/ground beef
70 g/ 3/4 cup bread crumbs
 (I use large chopped home-made crumbs from old bread dried in the oven, use up to a cup if bigger)
120 ml / 1/2 cup of milk
1 onion finely chopped
1 egg
2 tablespoons of dried chives
2 teaspoons of thyme
flour to roll your meat balls in

240 ml to 480 ml (1 to 2 cups) of red wine - depending on how rich you want your sauce and what you have to hand!
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
(possibly, half a teaspoon of honey if the tomato paste is acidic)

In a bowl, soak the breadcrumbs with the milk for ten minutes - this makes the meat balls tender. Mix together thoroughly the beef, the chopped onion, the herbs and the egg.  Spread some flour on a board, shape the balls by using all your finger tips pressing together, but not too hard as you don't want to over work them; put them on to the board and lightly roll them across (the flour will thicken the sauce).  I made thirty with this mixture, but you can make them to the size you want.  Fry them until they are browned, add the wine and cook for 8 - 10 minutes to reduce the wine.  Add 480 ml (2 cups) of water and cook on a low heat after you have brought it to the boil.  Add in the tomato paste and season to taste.  Cook through for about 25 - 35 minutes or more if the meat is less lean (add more water if needed).

The bean purée is just made of white beans (that are precooked) from a jar, blended with a few tablespoons of water, heated in a non-stick pan to the desired thickness and well seasoned.  You don't need any butter for the bean purée, just a splash of olive oil. 

The fresh spinach goes into a cold pan with just a tablespoon or two of olive oil  - do this just before serving when everything is cooked.  Keep turning the spinach as it warms.  Once the pan is hot, cut the heat and keep turning.  Total cooking time is 90 seconds,  it should still have a crunch to it - season well. 


25 comments:

  1. Dear Mr. Normandy Kitchen, I was introduced to your blog by WCS, Another American in France whose blog and that of his partner's I have been following for some time now. Anyway, I love Normandy and I love reading your recipies. Vicarious travel I guess. Many thanks for taking the time to write and I look forward to more postings. Merci et bisoux.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Angie,
      Thank you for stopping by and very pleased you like my site. I also follow both their sites too. I used to live in that part of France when I first arrived in France, so I enjoy seeing it again through their lenses!
      Ivan

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  2. Dear Ivan,
    I expect that those meatballs would go rather well with a nice creamy mash too!
    Kirk

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    Replies
    1. Hello Kirk,
      Yes, definitely... but I am trying to eat more beans and pulses (New Years resolution!). My mash potatoes are more liked mashed butter with Potatoes!!
      Ivan

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    2. They sound a lot like my version of mash potatoes then!
      Kirk

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  3. Looks delicious, Ivan! We always have meatballs with pasta. The white bean puree would be a nice change. Thank you for the recipes.
    Bon Appétit!
    Loi

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    Replies
    1. Hello Loi,
      Thank you, very happy you like the recipes! Hope you are doing well and are busy in your beautiful shop.
      Ivan

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  4. MMmmmmmm....I could handle this Ivan....oh Jim....lookie here!

    Ron

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    Replies
    1. Hello Ron and Sophie,
      Aston can confirm the meat balls are very tasty... as he was head taste-tester!
      Ivan

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  5. 'Great minds think alike and.....' we just picked up a pound of lean organic ground beef today and presto! here you are with this! The beans are very doable too, I thought at first they were potatoes. And what a good way to cook spinach, will try that next time. Thanks for this Ivan and your timing couldn't have been more perfect!
    Jim

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    Replies
    1. Hello Jim,
      I am Telepathic that's all!! The beans I did to look like mash potatoes as I said above I only enjoy them with a tonne of butter, whereas beans just don't need it - so beans it was!
      Ivan :)

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  6. Looks good I love a meat ball in winter, just not at the ,moment to hot.

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    Replies
    1. Hello,
      Sorry, all my food is out of sync with your seasons! Hope you are enjoying all that Thai food!
      Ivan

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  7. Perfect comfort food combo--made healthier by your care. Thanks so much! xLinda

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    Replies
    1. Hello Linda,
      Thank you, I try! I am always aiming to be a bit healthier in January - lets hope it lasts!
      Hope you are doing fine.
      Ivan x

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  8. Hi! I'm just doing a bit of catching up. These meatballs sound delicious as does that Galette. These meatballs would make a lovely little h'orderves too! Before all the craziness started Christmas Eve, I had used your puff pastry idea and cut out Christmas shapes to make little sandwich bites for Christmas Eve and they were a big hit. I got some pics that I will post on my food blog when I get time. Thanks for your well wishes for Emma. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Your New Years table looked amazing. :)

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    Replies
    1. Hello Janet,
      Thanks, happy you like them and pleased you enjoyed your Christmas bites! We had a really nice time over the holidays thank you.
      All the best,
      Ivan

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  9. You just can't beat comfort food, and this looks delicious! Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Hello Louise,
      That's so true.... and thanks!
      Ivan

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  10. This looks so good. I really like your idea of using a bean puree instead of mash - and no potatoes to peel so even better!

    Gillian

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    Replies
    1. Hi Gillian,
      Thanks - it's the butter factor, beans don't need it but Potatoes do and I have be over indulgent over Christmas, so..... beans it is!
      Ivan

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  11. Hey Ivan!
    Guess what!? The same day of your post on meatballs, I made the best meatloaf ever! I think that I just said to myself, "How would Ivan do this" and it truly ended up very good! I had some gluten free bread in my freezer, and I thawed it out in the microwave and THEN, I soaked it in milk...which is just what you said to do in this recipe! Isn't that funny? Maybe other people know to do this, but when you hardly ever have any bread, it is not something that I knew, I thought I made it up! :-) Richard makes the BEST mashed potatoes, and he also makes the best carrots, cooked just right with just a touch of onion and brown sugar.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Kay,
      I was channelling you the recipe before you started (lol!) The bread does help and good you had some gluten free - it's so expensive it's ideal to make any leftovers into bread crumbs.
      Happy your meatloaf came out well... even if you read the post after!!
      Ivan ;)

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  12. Do these (delicious looking) meatballs freeze well? I'm thinking some for dinner now, some frozen for later use with pasta. And I'm never sure if you can thaw ground beef and cook it and then freeze the results?

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    Replies
    1. Hello Emm,

      Thank you for stopping by. Yes, I froze half of them myself and that is fine to do.

      They use to say not to refreeze meat but recently in the UK press there was an piece that stated if the meat is frozen as soon as you buy it, (and not when you don't need it five days later) that if you cook with it and freeze it as quick again (same day) and reheat the meat to boiling point when reheating it, then you can do this.
      Hope that is clear and helpful?!
      All the best,
      Ivan

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