Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Recipe: Pork, Sage and Apple Meatballs in a Creamy Cider Sauce

Mr Foodie and I recently combined freezers, which has resulted in an epic amount of sausages. We're talking a kilo of organic sausagemeat, and four or five packets of sausages. I have no idea how, seeing as we're not massive meat eaters, but there's only so many bangers and mash and toads-in-the-hole that a girl can eat, so I've started to diversify.

Pork, Sage and Apple Meatballs in a Creamy Cider Sauce.
Serves 4.

For the meatballs:
500g sausagemeat or minced pork, blended until smooth in texture
generous teaspoon dried sage
1 egg
1 small cooking apple
salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1 onion, finely sliced
300ml dry cider
100g crème fraiche
teaspoon plain flour (if needed)
2 teaspoons grain mustard (or more to taste)
salt and pepper

For the meatballs:
Peel and grate the apple. Squeeze out as much liquid from the gratings as you can - setting the juice aside for the sauce. Pop the meat into a large bowl, along with the egg, sage, and apple. Mix through thoroughly - this will take a while and a fair amount of arm effort. If you think that you've got a bit much egg in to begin with, keep mixing, it'll blend through.
Using two teaspoons to help, break up the sausagemeat into mouthsized balls. Place them onto a lightly floured chopping board while you do this.
Next up, fry the meatballs in a wide non-stick frying pan. Use about a tablespoon of oil - don't forget that pork can be quite fatty so it'll let out some more fat as you fry. You might have to do it in batches if you've only got a little pan, just pop them in the oven in an oven-proof bowl to keep warm if you want to. Try not to move the meatballs around too much as you cook them, or they run the risk of breaking up. When the meatballs are bouncy, rather than squashy, and browned all over, cut one in half to check they're cooked. If no pink remains and they're hot in the middle, they're done. Avoid overcooking, or they'll go dry.

For the sauce:
In the same pan that you cooked the meatballs in, and without washing the pan, fry an onion until transluscent.
Slowly and carefully tip in your cider and any apple juice you may have saved from the squeezing, stirring the bottom of the pan to release all the sticky burnt on bits. Sprinkle on the flour and mix in the crème fraiche.
Add in the meatballs to the sauce and wait for it to simmer down until thickened.
Season with salt and pepper, adding a pinch of sugar to counteract any tartness if you wish, and serve.
 It's hard to make brown food look appetising, but it is, honest.
* I'd suggest serving simply, with potatoes and steamed veggies because the sauce is rich. We went for spinach and lightly fried mushrooms, which was great.
* If you want to bulk out the sauce or stretch your meat for more people, you could add sliced mushrooms - just make sure you fry off any mushroom liquid before adding the cider and cream.
* The sauce would be great with pork of any type - especially chops.
* Cooked meatballs are great in the freezer. Just make sure that they're well cooked and cooled completely before portioning and freezing.
* If you're making for non-alcohol drinkers, you could use a crisp, fresh apple juice. Cloudy type would be best - not too sweet.

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