From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I should never let my imagination loose in the French peasant kitchen. I find it terribly hard to leave and tend to overstay my welcome. I do, however, hope you'll indulge me if I linger there another day or two. I have some recipes I want to share with you. The frugality of French housewives is legend and their ability to transform the simplest of table scraps into delicious meals only serves to magnify the legend. It does sometimes seem they have the ability to make something out of nothing. Many of you will be serving roast beef for Passover or the Easter holiday. You're bound to have leftovers and boulettes - meatballs - are a great way to use leftover cooked beef. These are very easy to make and they are wonderfully flavorful. Credit for the recipe should go to Jacques Pepin who, while a celebrity chef, is also a wonderful teacher and author. If you have a food processor, preparation of the meatballs and their sauce will go quickly and you can have dinner on the table in less than an hour. The texture of these meatballs is quite soft. If you find they refuse to hold their shape, add small amounts of breadcrumbs until they can be formed, but don't overdo it. The sauce in which the meatballs simmer has diabolical color, but no heat. It is quite thick and you may want to thin it with stock or white wine. The boulettes can be served with pasta or rice, but I love to serve them with French gnocchi, a dish we'll explore tomorrow. Here's how the boulettes are made.
Boulettes - Meatballs with Tomato Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, courtesy of Jacques Pepin and Food and Wine Magazine
12 ounces leftover roast beef, veal or pork, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced celery
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their liquid
1/3 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1) To make meatballs: Put meat in a food processor and process until finely chopped. In a large bowl, mix flour with baking powder and salt. Add chopped meat, onion, celery, garlic, thyme, pepper and eggs and mix with your hands until thoroughly blended. Form mixture into 16 meatballs and flatten slightly.
2) To fry meatballs: Heat 1/4-inch oil in a large skillet until it shimmers. Add meatballs and cook over high heat until browned on bottom. Turn meatballs, reduce heat to moderate and cook until browned on second side, about 3 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a large plate.
3) To make sauce: Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic, onion, thyme and oregano and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, cover and cook over moderate heat for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using an immersion blender, puree sauce until slightly chunky; alternatively, puree the sauce in a food processor and return the sauce to the saucepan. Set aside.
4) To prepare olives: Put olives into a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately drain and add to tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs and heat through. Serve with pasta, rice or gnocchi Parisienne. Yield: 4 servings.
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