Monday, 19 December 2011

Meatballs with Spicy Chipotle Tomato Sauce

There's no two ways about it.  Meatballs are hard to photograph.  Especially when your as pants at photography as I am.  You'd think I'd know a thing or two, being married to award-winning, professional photographer @LCCPhotography.  But all his good advice goes in one ear, hangs around for a day or two and then flutters out the other with a few more memories.

He honestly does despair with me and my lack of skill with a camera.  I want to be good, really I do.  But it's one of those things.  There's no point in competing because I don't have the inherent artistic vision required to take good photos.  I just about remember the rule of thirds.  I've learned to make sure I don't cut appendages off of people (in photos!).  I know that the aperture setting affects the depth of field (although goodness knows what it means).

They're in there...somewhere...
I have a DSLR.  I was getting into using it and then I got pregnant so it's been packed away from small sticky fingers.  He bought me a compact with all the twiddly knobs and a gazillion settings.  I wanted a point-and-shoot because with a toddler, there's no time to faff around and figure out if you want it on aperture or shutter priority.  So I now own a camera that not only has program mode (ie semi automatic) it has intelligent-auto (read numpty) mode.  You point and shoot.  You can turn the flash on or off.

And yet still, it sits on my desk most of the time, out of the way of the detritus littering another evening in the kitchen trying out a new recipe whilst trying not to forget the chicken kiev (shop bought) and garlic bread (also shop bought) that's in the oven for the husband's dinner.  At least we won't have a vampire calling round our house tonight.

So the pictures of tonights recipe were taken on my phone.  People rave about the Samsung Galaxy S2 but having owned an iPhone, quite frankly I don't like it.  The camera sucks.  The shutter is so slow that I often miss the moment with Miss A.  Although sometimes I capture something that I wasn't expecting which can be a bonus.  Pictures with the flash are awful unless you're taking pictures of slumbering toddlers in the pitch black.  And it doesn't have Instagram.  Flickr isn't bad, but it's still not quite as good.

But having tried photographing meatballs before, and failing miserably, I knew I didn't stand much chance on the creativity front tonight.  There's no easy way to get at them if you're serving them in a bowl.  And they're usually under a pile of sauce - which is probably for the best because they're ugly little blighters.

S
Ugly little blighters, pre-cooking

So after that rather long-winded excuse for my poor photography, on to the recipe.  I chose this recipe because it uses pork mince.  I'm really not a fan of pork.  I'll eat sausages and I'll eat bacon, but I've never liked pork since I was a kid.  There was just something about fatty roast pork on Sundays and pork chops mid week that still turn my stomach at the thought even today.

The meatballs appealed though as something to try for Miss A (she's having hers tomorrow night).  She refuses meat but will occasionally eat a bite or two of sausage or beef meatball so I'm hoping they're the best of both worlds for her.

The meat - unusually for a lot of meatball recipes I've tried - was beautifully seasoned and tasty.  I think (whispers quietly) that the husband might even eat these without complaining.  The sauce was great to.  It is a combination of passata, onions, garlic and chipotle paste.  The recipe called for a tablespoon of chipotle paste, but rather sensibly, I clocked the 'hot' label on the bottle and only used a teaspoon.  Even that made my eyes water so goodness knows the BBC Good Food team must have asbestos tongues.

I had this with pasta just because that's what the husband was having with his kiev (strange combination, but he likes it) but I think it would have worked better served with rice or some of Dan Lepard's lovely corn oil tortillas.

Another keeper.  (From BBC Good Food Magazine, Jan 2012 issue)

Serves 4


  • 500g pork mince
  • small bunch of coriander - leaves and stalks chopped separately (I used Garden Gourmet coriander paste)
  • 2 handfuls fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 medium red onions, 1 quarter finely diced, the rest sliced
  • 2tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 400ml passata
  • 1tbsp chipotle paste (I used 1tsp Discovery Hot Chipotle Paste)



  1. In a small bowl, mix together the pork, breadcrumbs, egg,finely chopped onions and the chopped coriander leaves.
  2. Season, mix well and shape into small meatballs.
  3. Over a medium heat, add 1 tbsp of the oil to a large frying pand and brown the meatballs on all sides, then remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining oil, sliced onion, garlic, coriander stems and some salt.  Cook for 5 mins.
  5. Add the passata, chipotle paste and 100ml water.  Stir well then simmer for 10 mins before adding the meatballs and cooking for a further 5 mins.
  6. Serve with rice or warm tortillas


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