Friday, 20 December 2013

Pork & lemon meatballs - because we don't need to think about the turkey till next week...

You'll have noticed that there hasn't been much about Christmas here. 

It's not that I'm not bothered, not excited, but I'm not planning to do anything different or fancy, and as it's just us here for Christmas Day, and I don't want to have the place groaning with leftovers, I have tried not to over-cater or over-engineer anything.

I'm also quite fancying the approach Alexander Armstrong and Giles Coren took in their '12 Drinks of Christmas' programme that I happened to watch last night - line up 12 festive drinks, and let everything else take care of itself. I won't of course, but it did cross my mind...

I never really read the Dr Seuss books when I was growing up, but the Husband did, and his mum introduced them to our kids - Blue in particular - and there's a bit in How the Grinch Stole Christmas that I really love. It's this bit ('it' being Christmas):

"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. 
It came without packages, boxes or bags. 
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. 
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” 

I've been concentrating on getting the exhausted children through the last few weeks of school - there have been projects to finish, carol concerts, school discos, the usual end of Autumn term madness - and what with everything else that's been going on, I haven't really had time to think about anything other than the basics, even less blog about it.
So on the catering front, at least, I'm taking the 'Grinch' approach. Or perhaps not the Grinch's approach, but that of the Whos - whose Christmas the Grinch was trying to spoil. 

It will be Christmas whether I manage to make cranberry sauce or not. 

Whether the mince pies have homemade mincemeat in them - or the mincemeat from the jar I found at the back of the cupboard which looks perfectly edible but has a use by date of 2009 on it (may be I'll pep it up with some brandy...). Indeed whether the mince pies are homemade in the first place ("Recipe Junkie in bought mince pie shock..." I can see it now).

Whether the Christmas Cake looks like something Mary Berry would be proud of - or not - thanks to Pink's enthusiastic marzipan modelling last night.

Particularly loving Pink's attempt to turn a polar bear into a reindeer...

We will be together, at home, and we will have a lovely time, whether we eat like kings, or not.
And anyway, all of that stuff isn't till next week. 

For now, we need to eat normal food; food to keep us going as we wade through the end of term. It would help if I'd been meal planning, but that's gone by the wayside too, so yesterday I was scrabbling around in the freezer and found some pork mince. It's ages since we had meatballs, and the kids love them, so with a little help from Nigel Slater, meatballs it was.

Pork meatballs with mushroom sauce

4 anchovy fillets
450g pork mince
65g breadcrumbs
zest of a lemon; juice of up to 1 lemon (see Method)
handful of flat leaf parsely (leaves only especially if stalks are a bit woody), finely chopped

2 tablespoons (about 15g) grated parmesan
plain flour for dusting/rolling in (the meatballs, not you)
40g butter
olive oil
4 largeish chestnut mushrooms, peeled if necessary and finely chopped
200ml chicken stock
50ml (approx) cream

Mash up the anchovy fillets in the bottom of a large bowl, then mix in the pork mince, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley and grated parmesan and mix together, adding the lemon juice as necessary to bind it all together.

Cover a plate with plain flour.

Using a tablespoon as a rough measure, make your meatballs - I got 14 out of this mixture - flatten slightly, then put in the flour, rolling around to coat lightly.

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan, then brown the meatballs on both sides for about 4 minutes - I did this in batches. Once browned, set the meatballs aside, then chuck the mushroom into the pan and cook for a few minutes, then return the meatballs to the pan and cook for another 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally.

Tip in the chicken stock and bring the pan up to bubbling, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan, then drizzle in a bit of cream. I just had some in the fridge, and I didn't measure it out, but it wasn't much - just enough to turn the sauce from 'stock' to 'sauce' if you see what I mean.

When everything's hot, serve. We had it with a mixture of wild and red rice (cupboard clearing) and some steamed kale.

 And in case I don't get the chance again, 



  1. I love the sound of these meatballs, ideal before the turkey!

    1. Thanks Caroline - they were delicious actually. I was very pleased with them!

  2. I SO agree and I DO love pork meatballs too Sally! This is a recipe I may try to make this weekend, for friends on Sunday! Karen

  3. The cake is brilliant, and I do like the sound of the meatballs! :)

    1. Thank you - Pink will be pleased! The meatballs were very good. Try them!

  4. Nice looking meatballs (missus!).

    Happy Christmas


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