The lovely Vanessa was down for the weekend and so I cooked dinner for the four of us on Saturday evening. I was in a meatbally mood and so had a flick around on the BBC website and found this little gem. I excluded the head of fennel, as I’m not that keen on the flavour, but retained the crushed fennel seeds in the meatball mix so that some of the flavour remained.
It turned out rather well. I was concerned that the recipe wanted you to reduce the liquid rather too much. I always think that a stew should have a certain amount of ‘sauce’ with it. So I didn’t reduce it quite as much as suggested. I also used a bit more red wine and a good dash of red wine vinegar to bring out the flavour of the chorizo even more. I also used half fresh tomatoes and fresh chopped plum tomatoes which worked rather well.
For the tomato sauce:
1kg of ripe tomatoes, skinned, chopped and seeds discarded (I used 500g og fresh tomatoes and a 440g van of chopped plum tomatoes.)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Leaves from a sprig of fresh
For the stew:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 head of fennel, chopped (I omitted this)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
A generous pinch of dried chilli flakes
175ml of red wine (I used more like 225ml)
1½ teaspoons of smoked paprika
300g of chorizo, chopped
1 x 400g can of butter beans, drained and rinsed
For the meatballs:
750g of pork mince
1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds
2 teaspoon of ground cumin
For the tomato sauce, chop the tomatoes to pulp and discard the seeds.
Heat half of the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the shallots, thyme leaves and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.
Add the remaining olive oil and the chopped tomato pulp, and canned tomatoes, if using, then stir well to combine.
Cut a disc of greaseproof paper 1cm smaller than the diameter of your saucepan. Cover the surface of the tomato sauce with the greaseproof paper disc. This will prevent the sauce from drying out as it reduces and cooks. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cook gently for at 40 minutes to an hour, until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
When the mixture has cooked and thickened, set aside.
For the stew, heat one tablespoon of the oil in a casserole over a medium heat. Add the fennel, carrots, red pepper, garlic, onion and dried chilli and fry, stirring regularly, for 5-6 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.
Add the red wine and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Add the tomato sauce and the smoked paprika and return the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit.
In a bowl, mix together the pork mince, crushed fennel seeds and ground cumin, using your hands. Mix well and then shape into ping-pong ball sized spheres. (I managed to make 16 meatballs from this recipe.)
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a separate frying pan over a medium heat. Add the meatballs, in batches, and fry for 3-4 minutes, turning regularly, until browned all over. Repeat until all the meatballs are browned.
Add the browned meatballs and the chopped chorizo to the tomato stew mixture. Stir well to combine and then continue to simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
Stir in the butter beans and heat through for a further 1-2 minutes.
Serve immediately. I served this with wasabi mash and steamed spring greens.