Meatballs With Pistachios And Pecorino

One of the things I never turn down is a good meatball. I love mine the traditional way, with a good home made tomato sauce that’s flavored with a nice red wine over a plate of steaming spaghetti. That’s until I recently discovered a new recipe for meatballs that takes them to a whole new level. It’s an unexpected combination of flavors, but it works beautifully and allows me to indulge in my love for all things pecorino.

These little friends get their highly aromatic flavor from chunks of mellow pistachios, a good dose of grated pecorino, and a seriously delicious smooth sauce made from the pan juices, sage, and butter. Yes, butter! The ripening age of the pecorino will make all the difference in this recipe – I used a young pecorino, which has a subtler taste and won’t overpower the other ingredients.

The oven baked potatoes with onions are sublime, but be careful not to use too much olive oil as this can make the dish soggy and greasy. A simple green salad is a great starter for this dish, and crusty white bread makes an excellent side to soak up all the good sauce.

Meatballs With Pistachios (serves 4)
500g ground beef
80g butter
60g pecorino, grated
60g pistachios, roughly chopped
1 egg
1 slice white bread
dry white wine
2 or 3 sage leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper

1. Pour a small amount of milk (less than 1/4 cup) over the bread and let soak for a few minutes, then mash with back of fork.
2. In a bowl, combine ground meat, pistachios, pecorino, egg, and mashed bread. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Form small meatballs.
4. Heat butter in large pan, add meatballs and cook until well browned.
5. Deglaze with wine and let evaporate.
6. Add sage, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes or until meatballs are done.

Oven Baked Potatoes With Onions (serves 4)
600g peeled potatoes (firm cooking), thinly sliced
200g thinly sliced onions
extra virgin olive oil
2 rosemary twigs (one whole; one finely chopped)
1 tablespoon balsamico bianco

1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon balsamico bianco and 1 teaspoon of salt.
2. Add sliced potatoes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Drain and let cool for a minute or two.
4. In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan.
5. Add whole rosemary twig and sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes.
6. Arrange potatoes in oven proof baking dish in layers, alternating with onions.
7. End with a layer of onions and sprinkle with chopped rosemary.
8. Drizzle with olive oil and bake in oven at 180C/350F for about 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Serve meatballs drizzled with pan juices and with potatoes on the side.


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