Our European leaders can’t agree on the future of the Euro. Here in Ireland, we were lucky enough to be the first bailout boy of the current financial shambles. The God-like Greeks stepped in and took on the mantle of shame for a while. The poor chaps over in Cyprus were hardly noticed when they asked for a couple of billion to keep the dole queues queueing and civil servants civil. As I write, Spain is attracting the interest and Italy is only a few bond auctions away from the fun.
My friend L and I were discussing European politics and food (as you do). We agreed that both Spain and Italy have the ability to bring the whole show down. We also agreed that both do tasty meatballs.
Somebody else can sort out the Euro bailout billions. I decided to do my bit for European integration and try some Spanish Meatballs and Extreme Tomato Sauce. The sauce is inspired by the lack of good tomatoes in Irish supermarkets. This my first recipe ever inspired by a lack of ingredients. This despite our being a full member of the EU for many years. I don’t use any fresh tomatoes. If I were in Spain or Italy or virtually any sunny European country, I would.
For the Spanish Meatballs
- 1 kilo (2lb) of minced rib beef (rib = more fat = better flavour)
- .5 kilo (1lb) of minced pork
- 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 onions
- A few handfuls of breadcrumbs
- 2 good eggs
- Salt and black pepper
- Oil for frying
For the Extreme Tomato Sauce
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- .5 litre of passata
- A big squeeze of tomato puree
- A dollop of spicy tomato chutney (optional)
- A pinch of saffron
- 2 bay leaves
- A bunch of thyme
- A bunch of oregano
- 3 to 6 cloves of garlic (It’s up to you…)
- A glass of the Spanish wine that you will be drinking
First the mentally easy but physically difficult bit.
Put all the meatball ingredients into a bowl and mix them by hand. I used the latex gloves to stop my hands turning budget red in the process. You decide what’s good for you.
Then make up the meatballs. No smaller than a golf ball (Mine are a bit bigger).
Let the meatballs rest in a cool place and make the sauce. Sweat down the onions and garlic over a low heat (just like the EU, ECB, IMF, troika are doing to the Irish). Add the rest of the ingredients bar the wine and bring to a simmer.
You want to reduce it by about 25%. (Just like Ireland’s debt to the troika).Then add the wine and reduce it again (repeat previous brackets here) until you have a good thick sauce. Season to taste. You can do this while you are frying the meatballs.
The meatballs give off an excellent aroma while cooking. It starts to mix with the sauce aromas and the family start to appear from around the house.
Assemble the meatballs on a serving dish and pour over the sauce. Serve it with some nice bread. I used some focaccia breads that I got from the excellently named ‘One in the Oven’ at the Dun Laoghaire Sunday market.
Please don’t point out that we had Italian bread with our Spanish meatballs. That would be churlish and may lead to the collapse of the Euro. On the Spain V Italy thing, we will have to bring Italy into the spotlight. That’s for a later post. There’s not much more to say, except that the family want to know when I am doing it again. That is a result. Time for me to bail out, as it were. And I haven’t even mentioned the Germans…..
Footnote of gratitude: Thanks to Wife’s friend Mary who got into and out of Greece without getting stuck in a riot. She brought back some Saffron (on top of the tin of tomatoes in the first picture) for us.