Tuesday 28 January 2014

A Random Recipe: Beef & Lamb Meatballs with Broadbeans & Lemon

I made these with a hangover.  It's the one problem with food planning, I find.  Unpredicted hangovers.  At the start of last week I was all, Monday: Pasta Bianco.  Tuesday: Pasta Bianco (oh yeah, I totally give in to my obsessions).  Wednesday: Out for a friend's birthday.  Thursday:  Beef & Lamb Meatballs with Broadbeans & Lemon.

In fact, it should have read blah...obsessive pasta...blah.  Wednesday:  Out for a friend's birthday.  Plus pre-meal drinks.  Plus after-meal drinks.  Plus staying out till 12.30am on a weeknight (you crazy cat).  Thursday:  YOU WILL WANT TO SLAM YOUR HEAD IN THE DOOR TO TAKE AWAY THE PAIN OF A HANGOVER. WHY IS EVERYONE SHOUTING?

But - and here's the really fun bit - I'd already taken the minced beef out of the freezer, meaning I had to use it that night, or lose it forever.  And as much as the thought of having to stand upright for as long as it took to make these was pure pain, so was the thought of not eating at all that night - remember, feed a hangover - or throwing good money after bad and not using up the beef.

So.  I made these, hungover and no doubt somewhat delirious.  They took a smidge longer than I daresay they would have done if I were in the prime of health, and they had a few more steps than were ideal in my delicate state but, still easy enough to do and, as always with Ottolenghi, his spices were bright and unusual enough for me to sit up and take notice.  And, please somebody pass me a medal, I even double-podded broad beans.  Heroic, undoubtedly, but also very worth it to get the contrast between the two kinds of beans.  It fed my hangover perfectly - the meatballs were substantial enough that it was just the right level of dense protein hit needed for a hangover, and the broad beans and lemon nudged any vitamin buttons I felt I was missing that day.

This is my entry into this month's Random Recipe challenge, hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen.  It came from my Christmas present from my lovely and generous inlaws, a book I've mentioned my love of already, Ottolenghi's Jerusalem.  I've also noticed it's my second Ottolenghi meatball recipe, but that's the joy of a truly random recipe.  Will it replace those lost brain cells?  No.  Will I make it again?  For sure.  Will I get hungover on a weekday again?  Who am I kidding?  Luckily I've now got some of these in the freezer for next time.

Beef & Lamb Meatballs with Broadbeans and Lemon
Adapted from Ottolenghi, Jerusalem

For the meatballs:
300g minced beef
150g minced lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
120g breadcrumbs
Handful each fresh parsley, coriander, mint, dill, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon baharat spice mix (shop bought is fine; I used a bargain buy I'd got a few months ago called 'Persian Spice Mix' which had mostly the same ingredients in - otherwise, look at those ingredients and DIY)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons capers, chopped
1 egg, beaten

For the sauce:
4.5 tablespoons olive oil
350g broad beans, fresh or frozen
4 thyme sprigs
6 cloves garlic, sliced
8 spring onions, cut into 2cm slices
2.5 tablespoons lemon juice
500ml chicken stock
salt and pepper

For the meatballs, put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.  Form into 20 balls, each about the size of a ping pong ball.  This is easier if you divide the mix in half, and then into half again, and aim to get five balls out of each section.

In a pan large enough to later take all the meatballs, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil.  In two batches, fry the meatballs so they are browned on the outside, a few minutes for each batch.  Remove from the pan.

While they are cooking, blanch the broad beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes.  Drain and let them sit under the cold tap for a minute, to cool them down.  Double pod about half of them, by pressing gently on each one until the skin splits and removing the bright green beans from inside.  Discard the empty skins.

In the meatball pan, heat the remaining oil.  Add the thyme, garlic, spring onions and fry gently, stirring all the time, for a few minutes.  Add the unshelled broad beans, 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice, and just enough stock to cover the beans.  Cover the pan with either a lid or with a double thickness of tinfoil, and cook gently for 10 minutes.  Return the meatballs to the pan, stir gently, then add the remaining stock.  Cover the pan again and cook for 25 minutes, when the meatballs should be hot all the way through.

Just before serving, add the remaining lemon juice and shelled broad beans.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4


  1. Meatballs are so satisfying and substantial enough when you have a hang over and the tummy needs filling (shame about the head). They sound very good. I don't have that book but have picked it up more than once in the bookshop. Maybe its time to invest.

    1. I can absolutely recommend it, it's a joy from start to finish.

  2. my god these are like my ultimate comfort food... I love meatballs but I also really love broadbeans, i would be in absolute heaven eating these, thank you so much for the wonderful random recipes entry x

    1. They are proper comfort food, I got lucky this time round! They also freeze very well, I'm happy to report, so I'll be better prepared for my next hangover.

  3. Ugh ... hangovers are killer. Our German friend has a nasty saying that he teases us with when we have had too much German beer ... "You play, you pay! (insert obnoxious playful German accent here) ... and then he hands us bread and cheese and charcuterie to breakfast on. Your warm stew of meatballs and beans would also be welcome! A truly heroic effort on your part, dearie!

    1. You play, you pay is making me laugh a lot - what a perfect description!

  4. Double-podding broad beans with a hangover is definitely medal-worthy. But this dish looks so fabulous it would be worth it. I don't have any of Ottolenghi's books but I am very tempted on the back of this recipe.

    1. His books are so amazing - let's face it, anything that gets you in the kitchen with a hangover is worth looking in to.

  5. I've got Jerusalem too but haven't tried this recipe yet. I'm glad it went so well and it's another one I'll try and make soon. I just love Ottolenghi.

    1. Thanks, Corina. I completely recommend it - it's immediately gone on my 'cook again' list.

  6. I'm a big fan of meatballs (and double-podded broad beans too, actually) and with Mr O, this really has to be a winner. Maybe there should be a 'food for hangovers' challenge. On second thoughts, unlike this dish I think some of the entries might be truly frightening.