JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Rabbi Blue's meatballs

These meatballs are a family favourite - easy, comforting food which all of us (apart from Lucius) can cook. We eat them regularly, perhaps once a month - if we haven't had them for a while, one of the children is sure to ask for them.

I haven't consulted the recipe in years, and, now that I look at it, I see that I haven't been putting in lemon juice for a very long time, if ever. That will be an improvement. We generally use French mustard, either grainy or not, depending on what's in the cupboard. I sometimes use other types of jelly (blackcurrant, quince), or even lumpy jam if there's no alternative. Its a long time since I've used tomato juice, as I generally use a tin of chopped tomatoes, perhaps a little stock to make extra sauce when there are lots of meatballs.

It's a very forgiving recipe, it takes moments to put together ... I'm blogging it now so that I don't lose sight of its origins, because I'm about to give away the book from which it came - it's the only recipe I ever use from that book, and I need the shelf space. I'm going to give the recipe and preamble in its entirety, because - well, Rabbi Lionel Blue is like no other.

Self-pity meatballs

These meatballs were refugees from Sweden. They journeyed across the Atlantic to the States, and then journeyed back to Europe, so although this recipe has a Scandinavian basis, when it reached me it had acquired an American kick, which I toned down because of my British understatement. It is very easy and very versatile. It is good both for solo cooking, and for party cooking when all the tribes of Israel descend on me. When I am on my own for too long, I get lachrymose. These balls sauce me up, and I decide that life is worth living, and I even get down to prayer - my first for some time - and I just say "Thank you!"

I give here the quantities for one large portion. It is enough for one self-pitying rabbi or two normal people. Multiply the quantity according to the number of your guests and their emotions.

1/2lb mince
4 fl oz tomato juice
4 fl oz tomato ketchup (1/2 a small bottle)
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
1 dssp lemon juice
1/2 tsp made-up English mustard

Wet your hands, and roll the mince into balls, the size of small walnuts.

In a saucepan combine all the other ingredients except the lemon juice. Heat on the stove until it is just simmering.

Carefully put the balls in the simmering sauce, and cook very slowly over a low heat for a long time (40 minutes at least, but longer will be better).

Before serving add lemon juice to taste. This will moderate the sauce, which is very rich. You will not need any extra salt or pepper.

I like to eat the sauced balls with rye bread, especially the Jewish type, which is worth seeking out because it is flecked with caraway seeds, a taste I enjoy.

We always eat this with rice - it's the only way one or two of my children are prepared to eat rice (imagine refusing risotto!). I think next time I might try it with a little rye bread on the side.

Taken from Simply Divine, Recipes from the Cooking Canon and Rabbi Blue, by John Eley and Lionel Blue, BBC 1986


Anonymous said...

Love Rabbi Blue and love meatballs. In fact supper this evening was cullen skink (stuart, eloise and I) followed by leftover meatballs and leftover chilli - converted to meatballs and gallons of basic tomato sauce...yum yum :)

KJ said...

I'm going to try these. Rabbi Blue sounds like a real character.

Celia Hart said...

They sound delicious! We have a copy of 'Kitchen Blues - recipes for body and soul' and I love the introductions to the recipes. Rabbi Blue is so down to earth and full of common sense advice.
I've not heard of the 'Simply Divine' book, but the Rev Eley is the Rector in the neighbouring village to ours!


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That is such a fun recipe and I'm sure excellent eating. Some recipes like this that we've cooked so long and then go look at the original can surprise you like the lemon did you in this one.
And I love trying new meatball recipes!