More meatballs! This is an updated version of the classic British dish. Ottolenghi describes the key elements as “well-cooked meat, crisp pancake and velvety gravy.” He modified the popular dish by using ground pork in the meatballs. It was very hearty and rich.
The complete dish was time consuming to prepare, but the components can be made separately and ahead to save time, if desired. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. I modified the baking times.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Time: about 2 hours
For the Batter:
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup/240 ml whole milk
- 2/3 cup/160 ml India pale ale or another pale ale (I used Sierra Nevada)
- 2 T Dijon mustard
- 1 3/4 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Gravy:
- 2 T sunflower or canola oil
- 1 T (15 g) unsalted butter
- 2 small onions (about 12 oz (350 g) total), halved and thinly sliced
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 3 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 T all-purpose flour
- 2 cups/480 ml chicken stock
- 1/3 cup plus 1 T/100 ml India pale ale
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Meatballs:
- 7 oz/200 g sourdough bread, crusts discarded and bread cut into 1/4-inch (1/2-centimeter) cubes
- 3/4 cup/180 ml whole milk
- 1 1/2 pounds/700 g ground pork
- 4 oz/115 g pancetta, very finely chopped (I used a food processor)
- 1/2 onion or 1 very small onion (about 3 oz/80 g), grated
- 1/3 packed cup/20 g roughly chopped parsley
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 6 T/90 ml sunflower or canola oil
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- Heat the oven to 475°F/240°C, preferably on convection.
- Prepare the batter: Add the eggs, milk, beer and mustard to a large bowl, and whisk vigorously until foamy, about 1 minute.
- Add the flour and salt to a separate large bowl, making a well in the center, and pour the egg mixture into the well, in about four increments, whisking lightly each time until the flour is just incorporated. Whisk until there are no lumps and the ingredients are just combined, taking care not to overwork the batter.
- Set batter aside for at least 30 minutes, or while you continue with the next step.
- Prepare the gravy: Add the oil, butter, onions, rosemary and vinegar to a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-centimeter) baking dish (tin)(Do not use pyrex/glass). Bake, stirring a couple of times during cooking, until the onions are thoroughly collapsed and browned, about 20 minutes.
- Whisk together the flour, stock and beer in a bowl until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper, then pour flour mixture into the baking dish.
- Return gravy to the oven and bake, stirring twice throughout, until the gravy is thick and rich, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs and keep warm.
- While the gravy is cooking, prepare the meatballs: Soak the bread in the milk in a small bowl and set aside until the liquid is absorbed, 10 minutes. Use your hands or a fork to break apart the bread into a lumpy mash.
- In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork, pancetta, onion, parsley, garlic and lemon zest with 1 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper. Add the bread and use your hands to knead the mixture until it is very well mixed. Shape into 12 large meatballs.
- Spread 2 tablespoons oil across the bottom of a large roasting pan (tin), about 9-by-13-inches (23-by-33-centimeters) in size. (I used an enameled cast iron baking pan.)
- Add the meatballs and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until some of their liquid has been released. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet (tray) lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. Pour the liquid released from the meatballs in the roasting pan directly into the gravy, and then wipe the roasting pan dry.
- Add the remaining 4 tablespoons oil to the meatball roasting pan and return to the oven until very hot and beginning to smoke, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Working as quickly as possible, pour the batter into the pan (it should bubble around the edges) and then add the meatballs and 2 rosemary sprigs. Return to the oven immediately and bake for 15 minutes.
- Reduce the temperature to 400°F/210°C (don’t open the oven!) and bake for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until golden and well risen. (If you want, near the end of baking time (when the custard is set), you can sneak the gravy into the oven to rewarm during the last 5 minutes of baking.)
- Serve immediately, with the gravy alongside.