I often make meatballs with beef (sometimes mixed with pork), so I wanted to try something entirely different. I made meatballs with only pork and fresh sage. If you have ever bit into a raw sage leaf, it is overpowering. However, when sage is cooked in the meatball, the fragrance remains while the taste mellows out. The pancetta and bacon gives the meat some fat (moisture) and hearty taste.
This recipe was adapted and inspired from Gordon Ramsay, who made a similar dish during a Christmas special. I know the holidays have passed, but these balls of goodness are great all year round. The ingredients also include roasted chestnuts, wild mushrooms and it’s liquid.
Makes approx 20 meatballs
3 pounds of lean ground pork
2 mild/spicy sausages-casing removed and diced
1 cup of roasted chestnuts-medium dice
1 cup of dried wild mushrooms (dried porcini, Shiitake, oyster mushrooms etc) -reconstituted in water and roughly diced
1 cup of mushroom liquid (water from the dried mushrooms)
5 button white mushrooms-diced
4 slices of pancetta-diced
1 slice of bacon- diced
½ large onion-diced
4 garlic cloves-minced
6 fresh sage leaves-finely chopped
Olive oil for cooking
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1. Roast the chestnuts by scoring an X on the bumpy side, sprinkle some salt (yes, some of the salt may roll off) and roast on a baking sheet with no oil in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F.
1 a. Let the chestnuts cool slightly and remove the shells. I like using a cloth to manage the heat when removing the shells.
1 b. Dice the roasted chestnuts and set aside.
2. Place the package of wild mushrooms with enough water to cover the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have soften (minimum 30 minutes), remove the mushrooms to the chopping board and dice. Reserve the mushroom liquid.
3. Dice and prepare the other ingredients.
4. Cook the pancetta and bacon in a pan. Cook thoroughly. Remove from pan and set aside.
1. In a large bowl, mix the ground pork and sausage. Add in the diced chestnuts, mushrooms (wild and white mushrooms), onions, garlic, cooked pancetta and bacon, and the chopped sage leaves. Mix well until the ingredients are distributed evenly in the meat.
2. Season with salt and black pepper. Add in the mushroom liquid (excluding any grit that falls to the bottom of the bowl) and extra virgin olive oil. Mix well.
3. Add breadcrumbs. Adjust the liquid and breadcrumbs as needed until the meatball feels compact enough to form a ball. Add water if there is no mushroom liquid left.
4. Form meatballs and add to a baking tray. I like to use the ice cream scooper to form the meatballs. *If you are not cooking the meatballs right away, you can place the tray in the fridge in the meantime.
5. Add olive oil (or your oil of choice) into a pan. Pan fry each meatball until the outsides are brown but the insides are still not fully cooked. Approx 5 minutes per meatball.
6. Place the meatballs evenly on a baking tray that is slightly oiled or sprayed. Cook at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.
Serve with gravy, Worcestershire sauce, or on top of pasta, like you would with typical meatballs in marinara sauce. Enjoy!
(You can do a better job than me at making the meatballs more round)
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