Never having made meatballs before...
...I felt a little nervous, especially as I was going to attempt a Gluten-free version.
However, after eating spag bol on a weekly basis, I had felt an overwhelming need to make something different with the incredible beef mince which we buy lots of (from New Close Farm Shop, in Sacriston, County Durham. You should visit when you are nearby since it is the only [what I consider to be] genuine farm shop in existence*).
So, having opened Nigella's Feast for the first time in a while, I decided I would see if she had a decent mince recipe which was not bolognese. Or lasagne. Or Cottage Pie.
And she has!
In the children's section, she has a meal called Rice and Meatballs.
And it is delicious, especially with my south american/mum's recipe rice. Nigella serves her meatballs with plain rice but i think we can all do a lot better than that. In addition, it turns out it's great way to hide a large quantity of courgettes, which is great since we have had a lot of overly large courgettes sneaking up on me in the garden recently.
Here is the recipe:
Rice and Gluten-free Meatballs
For the meatballs
500g minced beef
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
3 Tablespoons fine polenta/cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
For the Tomato sauce
1 onion, halved
2 cloves garlic
A large courgette (optional, you could try even more)
1 Tablespoon oil (I currently like to use rapeseed oil since it is British)
1 x 700g bottle passata
125ml full fat milk
Put all the meatball ingredients into a bowl, with some pepper and mix gently with your hands.
Shape teaspoonfuls into balls and put on a tray lined with clingfilm (so they don't stick to it). Nigella says your children can easily do this, and although i was scared of the mess, it turns out that my children could do it! Tidily!)
there should be 50 or so meatballs.
Put the onion, garlic and courgette into a food processor and whizz to a pulp. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan, and cook gently for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time so it doesn't burn.
Add the passata, then half fill the passata bottle with water and pour that in too. Add salt and pepper, then gently bubble for about ten minutes.
Add the milk, then bring the mix back to the boil.
Carefully drop the meatballs into the red goop but DO NOT STIR AT ALL! They will fall apart if you do and you will have bolognese.
Cook the meatballs for 20 minutes with a lid on so the sauce doesn't evaporate.
This was enough for all 4 of us (2 adults, 2 relatively small children) for 2 nights. However it didn't taste as nice reheated so I think i'd save it for a time when the children are bigger or there are more of us.
Rice (enough for 6-8 people)
large glug of oil
2 teaspoons fennel seeds (less if you're not wild about fennel)
salt and pepper
2 cups rice (i use basmati)
3 1/2 cups boiling water
Finely chop the onion and gently fry in a large (preferably non stick) pan (i find turning it right down and keeping the lid on stops it burning, although I did have a long in-depth pastroal conversation with Nick this evening and nearly set fire to the kitchen.) This takes about 10 minutes.
chuck in the bayleaves, fennel, salt and pepper and rice. Stir around a bit to coat the rice and get it hot. Then pour in the water (which will spit!). Put a TIGHT LID on, turn it right down and leave for about half an hour. Don't stir it and you get the yummy crispy bits on the bottom.
Yummy! And the children loved it. I think they would have preferred plain white rice, but they ate it.
*This is probably not true.