Welcome to another guest post, this time from E who previously appeared when gifting us with the glory that is a peanut-butter-frosted cupcake. She’s gone savoury today. As a Scandi, she is probably loving this foul weather. So wrong. Either way, she’s not to be crossed, so when she says you should make this, you absolutely should. As in, have to.
I’m sure that as you read this I’m trotting happily behind all manner of Nuns in Rome, wiping my gelato-sticky face on their voluminous robes, calling out next flavour orders to the boyfriend. That or I’ll be sitting on my sofa, fuming at the snow and cancelled flights, booking new flights to Oz whence I shall return and live in heated climes, drink cold beer and be forever alarmed at the always-a-bit-racist culture.
I HAVE WARNED YOU.
I love Ottolenghi. In the pantheon of my kitchen Ottolenghi is pretty much a demi-God. I mean, he gets only a fraction of the worship I devote to, say, Bacchus. But still. His stuff is Good Stuff, is what I’m trying to say. I’m sure the proprietor of this blog would agree.
This thing is a mash-up of two of his recipes, with a couple of tweaks. It’s everything I like in food. Comforting and smoky and spicy and layers of flavours. And meatballs. How I LOVE a meatball.
Make this. Do it.
4 medium aubergines
About 500g turkey mince (I guess you can use whatever mince you fancy here. Beef, pork, even lamb if you’re into that sort of disgusting behaviour, you weird, weird person, you. I like turkey mince for this because its milder flavour brings out the toasted corn and the other spices nicely)
100g sweetcorn – fresh or frozen
4 spring onions, finely chopped
Bunch of parsley, chopped
2.5 tsp smoked paprika – I use hot
Garlic to taste
100 ml chicken stock
Also pictured: my Global knife. Got it for Christmas and it’s amazing. Everyone! Run out and get one, now! It has literally transformed my kitchen life. This knife is so sharp, so NINJA, that I once cut myself with it and didn’t even realise until I felt blood trickle down my arm and drip from my elbow. I love it.
Anyway. Yes. Dinner. First things first. Whack your grill on high. Slash the aubergines viciously a couple of times with a sharp knife, then place in a foil lined tray and put under the grill. Grill until your house smell of camp fires and the fire alarms go off. About an hour should do it. Turn every 20 minutes or so. It’s done when the aubergines are all shrunken and collapsed and pathetic.
Scoop out the aubergine flesh and put in a colander to drain for a while. Pick out any pieces of incinerated skin. It tastes of charcoal and that isn’t cool. When sufficiently drained put in a bowl, squeeze in a garlic clove or so, season and give it a stir.
While the aubergine is smoking away prep the meatballs. Start with toasting the corn (if you use frozen make sure it’s thawed and patted dry with a kitchen towel, yes?). Just put in a non-stick frying pan and toss about until lightly blackened.
Free tip: do not, like me, get down on eyeball level to check progress. Do you KNOW what happens when you place corn kernels on a high heat? Yeah.
When the corn is satisfactorily blackened throw in a bowl together with mince, egg, spring onion, parsley, smoked paprika, garlic and seasoning.
Mix with your hands. Go on. Make it go squelch. Niiiiice. Once it’s all mixed nicely wet your hands with cold water and shape into balls. About walnut size should do it.
At this stage put your oven on 160c. Heat oil in your frying pan and brown your meatballs, in batches if necessary. Don’t go too crazy with the frying. Just quickly brown them, don’t cook them through.
Move to a plate, reserve the oil in the pan.
Spread your aubergine mush out in the bottom of a 27x21cm ovenproof dish (I didn’t have a suitably sized dish so I used a brownie pan like a boss). Pour over the reserved oil and then put the meatballs on top. It’ll be a snug fit, but Otto says this is as it should be. I trust Otto. Add the chicken stock and 100ml water.
(Ed’s note: E provided a photo of this bit but I’ve already lost the whole post twice trying to get it in and I’m just not going to attempt again, so use your no-doubt vivid imaginations to conjure up something that looks a little like a large group of fat Germans soaking in an off-coloured thermal pool. Cheers).
Cover with foil and bake in the oven for an hour. Take the foil off for the last fifteen minutes.
Let it rest for 5 minutes then give it a gentle stir and sprinkle over pine nuts and some more parsley.
Serve with whatever you fancy. Rice? Couscous? Bulgur wheat? We went with orzo this time. Prefer it with rice.
Enjoy. Tis good stuff.