Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jamie Oliver's best tuna meatballs

This is not a great time of year for recently converted vegetarians. I'm talking about grill season and the random charred-meat aromas floating around everywhere, followed by the realization, "Oh yeah, I don't eat anything that smells like that anymore."

Then, out of blue this week, came this recipe from Jamie Oliver. It was nice to discover that (because I still occasionally eat fish) I can still enjoy a hearty bowl of meatballs. And, these tuna meatballs, from a traditional Sicilian recipe, do not disappoint. Here's my adaptation with Canadian conversions and my recommendation that you make the balls before you make the sauce:



For the tomato sauce:
olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 28 oz can of plum tomatoes
salt and fresh ground pepper
red wine vinegar (optional)
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped

For the meatballs:
1 lb sustainably sourced tuna
olive oil
1/3 cup pinenuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 eggs
zest and juice of 1 lemon


Make the meatballs — Chop the tuna up into 1/2-inch dice. Pour a good couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan and place on the heat. Add the tuna to the pan with the pinenuts and cinnamon. Season lightly with salt and pepper and fry for a minute or so to cook the tuna on all sides and toast the pinenuts. Remove from the heat and put the mixture into a bowl. Allow to cool down for 5 min, then add the oregano, parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, lemon zest and juice to the bowl. Using your hands, really scrunch and mix the flavours into the tuna, then divide the mixture and squeeze it into meatballs slightly smaller than a golf ball. If you dip one of your hands in water while shaping you’ll get a nice smooth surface on the meatball. If the mixture’s very sticky, add a few more breadcrumbs. Keep the meatballs around the same size and put them in the fridge for an hour to let them rest.

Make your sauce — Place a large pan on the heat, add a good glug of olive oil, your onion and garlic and fry slowly for 10 min until soft. Add your oregano, the tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 min or so, then liquidize until smooth. Taste – it might need a tiny swig of red wine vinegar or some extra seasoning.

Put the pan you fried the tuna in back on the heat with a little olive oil. In two batches, add your meatballs to the pan and jiggle them about until they’re golden brown all over. Divide between your plates, sprinkle with chopped parsley and shaved Parmesan.

 Notes: 1) Resist the urge to make bigger balls. The two larger-than-a-golf-ball–sized balls that I had began to disintegrate in the pan 3/4 of the way through cooking. 2) This really is a meal unto itself — no pasta needed. 3) Isn't it creepy how my hand is the same colour as the tuna!




No comments: