On the Apprentice last week they had a food task, which is usually hilarious because the applicants are barely complete humans, let alone business people or chefs; thus cooking displays the flair and adaptability they all think they have, but display like Baldrick (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0q66NuZrB2E) . Of course, being a student, I have roughly Baldrick’s cleanliness, but I am in far more debt than him. Anyhow, the team led by knuckle dragging, 70’s throwback (provided everyone was thick and sexist back then like I assume) Adam decided to make “gourmet” meatballs. Given a budget, can I beat their attempt? 96 pence per serving I think they reached (It was a week ago). Adam's Bargain Meaty Balls.
Serves 2 -3
One good quality sausage (40p or so)
A pork loin steak (anywhere between 40p and 80p depending on where and how many)
Tin of tomatoes (33p)
An onion (Bag of cooking onions from Iceland, 75p, so 8p or so)
An egg yoke (free range, 17p)
Seasoning, see above but use what you have
Spaghetti (for 3, 345g, 40p)
End of bread loaf
Garlic (25p – I use posh garlic)
£2.03, give or take, which is 67pence a dish for 3 people.
I had a sausage and a pork chop in my fridge, and I decided to see if I can make the two into a meatball to beat the horror of Adam’s team’s effort. So I chopped my pork fine, removing the fat before as it is harder to cut finely and needs more effort, but should be cut and added for flavour. By finely cut, it is really up to you, but I went for short slithers of cheap ham slice size. Cut the fat up separately, and as fine as you can be bothered. Put it in a bowl.
The sausage was a “finest” quality one, with apple, but you can use others of course depending on budget and taste. However - complete skimping is highly discouraged in the sausage area. They are not that dear, can be frozen individually and the cheaper ones are made from pork sinew dust, ligament puree and rusk; those cheap ones will not work in this recipe, probably. Yuck. Open the skin to the sausage and remove the meat. Add it to the pork in the bowl.
Add half an onion and one or two garlic cloves finely chopped.
Blend a bread loaf end to dust, add half of that to the meatball mix.
Add your herbs. For apple sausages I used a big pinch of Cinnamon, Italian seasoning, dried parmesan (two big pinches), pepper, and a tiny bit of green pesto. It was literally what I had lying about. I even scraped a bit of growth off the pesto, before adding it of course.
If apple sausages and a fruitier feel doesn’t appeal, swap cinnamon for ground fennel seed and some dried chilli. And obviously don’t buy apple sausages.
Add an egg yoke to this meat, bread and herb mix and gently massage them together. I only say gently because you can lose much to the floor with vigorous manipulation.
Simmer some onion, chilli (I used two birds eye), garlic and red pepper (I chopped up a half reasonably small) over a medium heat until soft. When soft add a tin of chopped tomatoes, oregano and salt and pepper. At this point any wine you have comes into play, a half/ full glass of white or red depending on taste. I’d use white with these meatballs. I didn’t have any wine as I prefer to drink it, so I put a cap of white wine vinegar in. I also added a mug of boiling water and some chicken stock. Simmer this.
Roll the meat into balls, size is really up to you but I did quite big ones, and got 7 of them, which isn’t the ideal amount for sharing I admit. Add some pepper to the remaining breadcrumbs and roll each meat ball in it before frying them over a medium heat in olive oil or butter until golden brown on each side. Then add them to the sauce which is still simmering.
Leave the meat and sauce to simmer for a bit, with the lid on and stir every few minutes while you boil the pasta.
Do I need to explain how to cook pasta? If you can’t cook pasta everything previously will have read like Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. The only advice I’ll give is do lots of spaghetti, say 115g per person, the dish is fairly sauce-y and rich so bulk it out with pasta to soak the flavour up.