Riverford Wicked Leeks

meatbox newsletter - making meatballs

In my last newsletter, I put on my cynical, devil’s advocate hat and had a bit of a pop at the WWF’s Livewell diet so I’ll keep things a little lighter this time - meatball light. I’ve been a big fan of meatballs for years. They are great in wraps and pittas, curries, soups and pasta sauces, and make superb canapés (with a little beautifying). We used to offer several types through the meatboxes but, temporarily I hope, we’ve had to shelve them while we cope with the more fundamental issue of supplying the ever-increasing amounts of meat required for the boxes. However, all is not lost. Making meatballs at home is much more creative and satisfying; you can make whatever size and flavour you like and freeze the surplus for an easy supper next time.

I thought I was ‘Professor Meatball’ but a quick look at Wikipedia makes me feel like the class dunce. It seems that every country has an exotic variation, whilst we have ‘God save the Queen’ and the faggot. Meatballs are easy on the purse strings too. Lamb and roast squash falafels (see our website for the recipe) taste great, and contain barely 10% lamb. Turkish köfte meatballs can be padded out with couscous (an excellent binder) and sunflower seeds if like me, you draw the line at the hideous price of pine nuts. Meanwhile for a Chinese-style meatball use minced pork, five spice mix and a little hoisin sauce or go Italian with polpette; a mixture of beef and pork, breadcrumbs, flat leaf parsley and parmesan. The Greeks have a version in egg and lemon sauce as well as various kebab creations and we all know from visits to IKEA that the Swedes have virtually institutionalised them as part of a meat smorgasbord.

Included in this week’s recipes are our Nigella-inspired lamb meatballs with a winter vegetable casserole. The recipe was served by the Field Kitchen at last year’s Real Food Festival, to Raymond Blanc no less. I like it because it is a great ‘multi veg’ recipe with an extra dimension provided by the (very cheap to make) meatballs. Lots of veg and a little bit of good meat at its best.

Ben Watson