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The Art of the Mexican Selfie

We usually take meatballs off the menu for summer, partly because it’s too hot, but mainly because the chefs get sick of making them during the cold season. We rock about five different types from October till  April, changing monthly, and by late May the chefs are pounding me with balls every time I enter the kitchen (no not like that, you freaking perverts). So this year as usual we took em off around late May. But we had a couple of chefs that I wanted to get rid of, so after about two weeks, just to mess with them I came up with this dish. A breakfast surprise. As I’m not good with confrontation, I made sure to put this on as I bailed for a week’s holiday in Formentera. And just in case the meatball thing didn’t have the desired effect, every morning I sent them sexy pillow-face selfies with a holiday greeting. The double down seemed to work because when I returned they were all ready to hand in their notice. I don’t know if it was the popularity of the dish or my smouldering eyes, but we weeded out the bad eggs and kept the good ones.

We have a good team in the kitchen now, and to reward them, I’ve taken this dish off……Just in time for meatball season.

The  yogurt/brown butter element isn’t even remotely Mexican, but this combination features heavily in Turkish and middle eastern cooking. So I say what the hell….It works a treat.

Serves 4 and 1 for left-overs

Ingredients

MEATBALLS

1 kilo of pork mince

250 g of minced pork jowl or minced pork fat

12.5 g salt

20g smoked paprika

15g cumin

1/2 bunch each of cilantro and parsley, finely chopped

1/4 loaf of fresh Bimbo (crappy white bread) bread, blitzed in a food processor for 30 seconds

BROWN BUTTER

Small bunch of sage leaves, picked

100g butter

TOMATO SAUCE

1 onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

800g tin of pureed tomatoes

1 cup of chilli puree (2 each of dried ancho, pasilla, guajillo, steeped in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, then pureed )

250 ml of water

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbs salt

YOGHURT

200 grams of greek yoghurt

Juice and zest of half a lemon

A pinch of salt to season and balance the lemon

20ml water

Method

For the sauce, cook down the onions and garlic until soft, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for an hour. Add more water if it’s getting too thick. Check the seasoning and sugar amount. If it’s too tart, add a little more sugar.

Meanwhile, for the meatballs, place all the ingredients into a bowl and combine. Roll into balls of 50 grams each.

Brown off the meatballs, then place in baking tray. Fill 2/3 of the way up with sauce. Add a cup or two of water to slightly thin out the sauce. Cover with baking paper and foil. Bake at 190c for an hour or until the sauce is bubbling and thickened slightly. Check for seasoning.

For the brown butter, place the block of butter into a pan over medium heat. Once it has melted, add the leaves. Fry the leaves until crisp, watching that the butter doesn’t brown too much. When the butter starts to brown and you can smell the caramel sweetness, remove from the heat immediately. All up, this should take 2 to 4 minutes.

For the yoghurt, mix ingredients together. Season further if necessary.

To serve, fry 8 eggs in whatever combination your pan allows. Season them. Place four meatballs into each casuela, spoon over the hot tomato sauce. Place two fried eggs on top of each casuela, spoon over the lemon yoghurt, then ladle the butter. Finish with crispy sage leaves, and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Serve with toast or warm tortillas.

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