Down in the southwestern tip of France near Simon’s house, the cooking has a strong taste of Catalonia, meaning that olives, anchovy and garlic are key ingredients. Surprisingly the children seem to enjoy them, particularly when applied to their favorite meatballs, which can be served hot as a main dish, or at room temperature. Grandma often substitutes a can of Coca Cola for the red wine when cooking for kids.
Makes about 20 meatballs to serve 5-6
1 pound/450 g lean ground beef
8 oz/225 g ground pork or lightly seasoned pork sausage meat
3- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5-6 fillets anchovy in oil, chopped
1/2 cup pitted green olives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
¼ cup/30 g flour
¼ cup/60 ml olive oil
1 cups/250 ml robust red wine
1 cup/250 ml water, more if needed
1. In a bowl, combine the ground meats, garlic, olives, anchovies, tomato paste, egg and egg yolk with cinnamon, cayenne, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon, then beat until it pulls from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes. Sauté a nugget of the mixture, taste it, and adjust the seasoning of the rest.
2. Heat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Spread the flour on a sheet of parchment paper and season it with salt and pepper. Dampen your hands and roll the meat mixture into balls the size of large walnuts. Roll the meatballs, a few at a time, in the flour until well coated. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs to the pan brown them all over, 5-8 minutes – if they seem crowded, fry them in two batches. Using the draining spoon, transfer them to a baking dish – traditionally this is made of earthenware.
3. Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the balls with the red wine and water, replace the lid and continue baking until the liquid is reduced to a few tablespoons: a metal skewer or fork inserted in a meatball comes out warm when withdrawn. Note: do not overcook meatballs, or they will be dry. Serve them in the baking dish, speared with toothpicks.