Ottolenghi’s Meatball Toad-in-the-Hole

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
  1. Heat the oven to 475°F/240°C, preferably on convection.
  2. Prepare the batter: Add the eggs, milk, beer and mustard to a large bowl, and whisk vigorously until foamy, about 1 minute.
  3. 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.
  4. Set batter aside for at least 30 minutes, or while you continue with the next step.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.)
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.)
  15. Serve immediately, with the gravy alongside.

Shepherd’s Chicken Pot Pie

I’m not a corned beef and cabbage person. It’s okay! I bought some corned beef at Trader Joe’s so that my husband and son could make their St. Patrick’s Day sandwiches for lunch. 🙂

and…

Although I love a one-dish complete meal, I am also not a Shepherd’s pie person. Ugh. (I’m really not a picky eater!) But, when I saw this Shepherd’s pie twist on a chicken pot pie, I knew it would be the perfect “Irish” meal to serve on St. Patrick’s Day. We ate it with roasted asparagus and green salad- just to add some celebratory green to our meal. Great comfort food!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Scott Hocker. I increased both the chicken and garlic and modified the roasting temperature and time in order to coordinate with my roasted asparagus. I loved Hocker’s description of this dish as “a complete meal in every bite.”

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Total Time: 1 hour

For the Potatoes:

  • 2 pounds baking potatoes (I used 3 russet potatoes)
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter

For the Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 large carrots, cut into chunks or chopped in a food processor
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • fresh parsley, for garnish, optional

Make the Potatoes:

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. In a large pot, cover the potatoes with warm, salted water, then bring to a boil.
  2. Boil until the potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. Drain the potatoes, then mash them with the milk, butter, and salt to taste.
  4. Reserve the mashed potatoes.

Make the Filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. (I used the convection roast setting.)
  2. Chop the garlic in a food processor, followed by the onion and then the carrots.
  3. In a large cast-iron or heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat until hot, then stir in the onion, garlic, carrots, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the flour and cook, until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  6. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then stir in the chicken. Cook until desired thickness is achieved.
  7. Season the filling with salt and pepper to taste.

Complete the Dish:

  1. Transfer the filling to a 3-quart baking dish. (I used a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.)
  2. Spread the potatoes evenly over top of the filling.
  3. Bake the shepherd’s pie pot pie in the preheated oven until the potatoes are browned in spots and the filling is bubbling, about 15 minutes.
  4. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

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