Last weekend my sister and her boyfriend were coming over for dinner and I wanted to make something delicious to impress them but I also wanted the whole thing to be a chilled affair in which most things would be prepared in advance and I could chill out and relax with a glass of wine while serving things up in an effortless and stressed-free manner. Ha Ha. What actually happened was a very different affair. The menu was roasted squash and chorizo bruschettas, these lovely meatballs with yoghurt and Naan for mains, and chocolate mousse with shortbread for dessert.
I should have known the night before that things wouldn’t be exactly plain sailing. A seemingly “fool-proof” chocolate mousse recipe, was not in fact so fool-proof and I ended up overcooking the chocolate into a dark lumpy mess and the booze in the mousse made it seize up. Thankfully I had more chocolate and eggs so we decided to start again with my boyfriend taking over the reigns (this was his signature dessert and so obviously I got it all wrong, having never made it before). Or not. Same thing happened second time around, but it being 11pm, and not really caring anymore, we decided lumpy chocolate mousse was better than no chocolate mousse and so we threw it in the fridge and hoped for the best. I had already roasted my squash for the starters the next day, and felt that tomorrow I would have ample time to prepare. Wrong again.
As it turns out, arriving home at 6.30pm from a day out in town was not a good idea when your guests are due to arrive at 7.30pm (which ends up being 7.15pm when you have a super punctual sister). Even worse, my “helper” decided to take a nap so I was left to my own devices… Never a good idea. As I furiously squished together meatballs, blitzed sauce and tried not to burn toast for the bruschettas the clock was ticking past 7pm and all of a sudden my guests arrived. With my not so helpful helper missing (‘man-flu”- fellow men will sympathise, women won’t), me dressed in old jeans and a wooly jumper rather than dress and heels as planned, no table set, no glasses out or no wine at the ready ,I though I would melt into an oozing cesspit of rage/stress.
Alas, miraculously after cracking open a bottle of wine everything seemed to fall into place (I find alcohol has that effect) and once these meatballs were served all was well again in the world and we actually ended up having a really great night!
Despite my lengthy rant, these really aren’t difficult or hassle to make, unless you only start making them when you’re guests arrive which I do not advise. These would be delicious with lamb mince instead of beef mince also, and you can leave out or add in any spices you want. These aren’t too hot, but you can always use less chilli if you have a sensitive palate, and if you’re coriander isn’t your thing, just leave it out along with the paprika and cumin, and throw in a bunch of chopped basil for Italian style meatballs instead. As always, these freeze perfectly.
Ingredients (serves 6):
2 lbs beef mince
1 onion finely diced
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 red chilli finely diced
1 handful of coriander chopped
500g tomatoes chopped
1 red chilli deseeded and chopped
1 onion finely sliced
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 handful coriander chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
250g greek yoghurt
1 handful fresh mint chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
(Optional- but grated cucumber is great in this yoghurt sauce)
3-4 Naan or other flatbreads to serve
- Fry your diced onion and garlic in a large oiled pan until softened through. When softened set aside to cool for a few minutes and then add to a bowl with the beef mince, chilli, coriander, egg, salt and pepper. Mix together well with your hands and roll into little balls with your hands (about and inch high).
- Fry meatballs in some olive oil on a high heat to brown all the sides. You may need to do this in two batches as this recipe makes a lot of meatballs. When all are browned on the outside (should take about 5-10 minutes per batch) set aside.
- With a hand blender, blend your tomatoes, chilli, salt and coriander into a smooth sauce. Tip your finely sliced onions and garlic into a large heavy bottomed pot with a little oil and fry until soft. Then add in your sauce, stirring until hot.
- Tip your browned meatballs into the sauce, add your cumin, paprika and additional salt/pepper if needed and let it bubble away until the sauce reduces down into a nice thick sauce. Let the meatballs simmer away on a medium heat in this pot for 20 minutes to ensure they are cooked through.
- To make the yoghurt sauce just mix together the ingredients until combined.
- If you are serving with Naan bread or other flatbread like I did, sprinkle the breads with a little water and pop into a hot oven for 5 minutes until hot.
- Serve the meatballs with a dollop of yoghurt on top and slices of the flatbread on the side to mop up all the delicious sauces.\