Sunday 4 September 2011

Cephalonian Meat Balls - Polpettes (BLW)

I was looking through my older posts and I realised I don't actually have many recipes from Kefalonia other than the Avga me Ntomata really... So I thought I should rectify this and cook something Cephalonian. This recipe is a really good introduction to the traditional flavours and cooking from the island. It has cinnamon, tomato and garlic flavours, and has a very homely, comfort-food feel about it. Perfect for a rainy Sunday at home.

It is a fairly easy recipe to follow, though its not my usual quick meal. But it is definitely worth the extra time, if you have it spare. I grew up on these meatballs and this recipe is fool-proof in accomplishing the fluffy texture of the meatballs with the rich flavour of the sauce. It is usually served with long grain rice and some grated hard cheese. We decided to cook it without any salt, so that Missy could actually share the exact same meal with us. I was really surprised to find that it didn't seem to really miss the salt. It seems that the rest of the spices and herbs season the meat enough, so it does not taste bland in any way. Obviously, if you want to add salt, I am sure it will only help make it taste even better.

Dinner for the whole family

Serves 3-4 (and a very hungry little person)

For the meatballs:
500g beef mince
1 grated onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 tsp of chopped fresh mint
2 medium eggs
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 teacup of soft white bread crumbs, soaked in water then squeezed (use fresh bread, as opposed to stale bread for this recipe)
2-3 tbs flour for coating the meatballs
salt (optional if BLW)

For the tomato sauce
75ml olive oil
400g of passata
1 cinnamon stick
salt (optional if BLW)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp butter

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together and knead well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Shape the mince into balls and flatten slightly on the top and bottom (about the size of a large egg). Flour them lightly and fry them for 3-4 minutes on each side in the olive oil. Set aside on a plate.

In a separate pan put the oil, passata, cinnamon stick and seasoning and bring to the boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the lightly fried meatballs. Gently simmer in the pan for about 45 minutes, adding a little water if required and checking the meatballs don't stick to the pan. About 15-20 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the sugar and the butter to the sauce and stir gently.. Serve with boiled rice or mash and a little grated cheese.

My portion

Missy's portion, which she ate with her hands. We are still finding bits of rice all over the house...

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