I was really excited to try out my latest recipe (from Delicious Magazine, March 2013) – Sausage and Chickpea Meatballs with Feta. I had such high hopes for warming comfort food on a Sunday evening. But this meal elicited a lot of expletives in the Reidbury kitchen. I’m not really sure how much I’m to blame for the mess I ended up serving, or whether the recipe itself has a lot to answer for. But whilst the flavours of this dish still ended up being decent, the meatballs were an unmitigated disaster. They had absolutely no substance to them and just collapsed into some kind of puréed mess into the sauce. In fact they fought me every inch of the way. There’s no way I’d cook this again, but I do think experience taught me a few lessons that if I were to try this in the future:
- My food processor is not the best and sort of over-processes the bottom half of the ingredients, whilst the top half remain untouched by the blades! So by the time all the ingredients (including the meat, feta and chickpeas) were properly blended, the meat was puréed rather than ‘mixed’
- I would chill the meatballs for a lot longer than the stated 15 minutes
- I would not use my Le Creuset buffet pan to fry the meatballs. The bloody things just stuck to the pan and then started to collapse. Non-stick is the way forward…
- The recipe itself suggested that as an alternative to using a food processor to blend the ingredients, you can use a potato masher to ‘hand blend’. But then they also stated that you should use an egg to bind the meatballs with this method. There definitely needed to be some kind of binding ingredient even if you followed the food processor route.
So here’s the recipe for you in case you can learn from my failings… Humph. (Notice there isn’t a picture of this dish. I couldn’t bear taking a photo)
KB rating 3/10. PR rating 5/10
- 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 4 free-range pork sausages, skins removed
- 100g feta, crumbled
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- Pinch of sugar
- 300ml chicken stock
- 25g flatleaf parsley, chopped
Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor with the sausagemeat, feta and garlic until just combined. Season with black pepper and a little salt, then shape into walnut-size balls. Chill in the fridge for 15 mins.
Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then brown the meatballs in batches until golden all over (or in my case, watch them stick to the pan and then disintegrate when you get within 2 yards of them). Remove and set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes and vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, then pour in the stock and bubble for 10 minutes.
Add the meatballs and simmer for 10-12 minutes until cooked through. Serve scattered with parsley. (I served with couscous, but this would be nice with pasta too)