“Meatballs in tomato sauce”
This meatball recipe was given to me by the grandmother of a friend. The sauce is a simple tomato sauce made from ‘bulion’, which in the countryside the village cooks make in large quantities late in the summer to
provide them with tomato pasta throughout the winter. Meatballs, or ‘chiftele’, are quite common in Romania and I suspect the word, which is pronounced ‘kif-te-le’ is related to the Turkish ‘kofte’. It can be served with a variety of things, such as mashed potato (cartofi piure), polenta (mamaliga) or homemade pasta (taitei de casa).
Time: 30 mins (if you multi-task)
Servings:For two people
For the meatballs:
250g pork shoulder, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbs of oil plus more for shallow frying
1 tbs of water, cold
Salt, pepper and any other fresh herbs you have handy, parsley or dill if you have it.
For the sauce:
2-3 tbs of oil
4-5 heaped tbs of concentrate tomato paste
½ cup of water (more can be added later if the sauce needs thinning out)
1 tbs flour
3-4 cloves of garlic (or more if you like it like that), thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Warm the oil in a saucepan and mix in the tomato paste very well and stir for a couple of minutes until well incorporated.
2. Add the water and blend in. Then leave to simmer gently for 7 minutes, stirring from time to time.
3. Next, add the tablespoon of flour and mix well, and the seasoning, fresh herbs, the bay leaf, and the chopped garlic, and simmer for about another 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
4. You know that the sauce is ready when you get a kind of slightly denser layer on the top of the sauce. As this layer thickens (through further reduction) so the flavour intensifies. It’s up to you how wet/sticky/intense/diluted you want it.
5. Thoroughly mix the minced meat, onion, herbs and spices, and the egg together in a bowl.
6. If the meat isn’t particularly fatty, add the oil. If it has its own fat, you can skip the oil.
7. Add the water (if needed – it might be that the egg was enough, depending on its size), knead, and form into balls (with wet hands) about the size of a large walnut, and put to one side.
8. Heat some more oil in a pan (about 1cm of oil) and brown the meatballs all over. Remove to a dish with a slotted spoon to drain.
9. Pour the hot sauce over the meatball (or add the meatballs to the sauce), leave on the warm stove for ten minutes while you prepare the accompanying dishes and plate, then serve. You can garnish the sauce with fresh chopped parsley or mint (or a combination).