2015/01/img_6153.jpgIt’s a bit nippy out. As this spell of cold and miserable weather continues, after a long, chilly and muddy walk in the country, we turned to Jamie this weekend in search of some comfort. Sunday lunch is always a time for family indulgence in our house, usually in the form of a roast. However, we had dined on roasted chicken as part of our Saturday night Indian feast, so we were on the hunt for something a little different.

‘Big British Meatballs’ is a recipe featured in Jamie Oliver’s most recent offering ‘Comfort Food’. It’s not a publication that’s aimed at the health conscious in any way, shape or form. That said, if you’re treating yourself (once a week is allowed, surely!?) then you’re sure to find a plethora of tasty gems to your liking nestling in here.

This dish is essentially very large meatballs stuffed with cheddar and served with a thick and rich onion and ale gravy, on a bed of creamy mash. Well, I did say that it wasn’t the ideal choice if you’re calorie counting! Although, Jamie does recommend throwing a few greens on the side (which, incidentally, compliment it all very well).

To make our version of the meatballs (serves four very generously to six) you will need:
For the meatballs:
– Two large onions (peeled/finely chopped or blitzed)
– Two sprigs of fresh rosemary (finely chopped or blitzed)
– Olive oil
– 500g of pork mince
– 500g of steak mince
– Two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
– One handful of breadcrumbs
– 80g of extra mature cheddar
For the gravy:
– 200g of steak mince (finely minced)
– One large onion (peeled/finely chopped)
– Two sprigs of fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
– One beef stock cube
– 200ml of pale ale
– Two heaped tablespoons of plain flour
– Two teaspoons of English mustard
– One tablespoon of blackcurrant jam
– Two tablespoons of malt vinegar

– Starting with the meatballs, put the onion and rosemary in a large pan with some oil on a medium heat. Add the Worcestershire plus a good couple of splashes of water.
– Cook until the water has evaporated and the onions are nicely caramelised (around twenty minutes) stirring occasionally. Season to taste and then set aside in a bowl to cool.
– Add in the pork and beef mince, plus the breadcrumbs. Making sure your hands are very clean, knead and scrunch it all together. Divide it into twelve equal parts and form balls.
– Wash your hands and then cut the cheese into twelve cubes. Push one into the middle of each meatball, re-rolling again to keep the shape.
– Place on a tray and refrigerate.
– To make the gravy, cook the meat in a pan with a little oil until golden, stirring well. Add the onion and rosemary, then cook for another five minutes.
– Crumble in the stock cube and add in the ale. Continue to cook until the gravy looks dark, then stir in the flour, vinegar, mustard, jam and 750ml of water.
– Leave to simmer for around half an hour, or until the sauce is lovely and rich. Season to taste.
– Meanwhile, preheat the oven to gas 9/240C with a roasting tray inside. After ten minutes or so, drizzle the tray with a little oil and place the meatballs on top, leaving a good amount of spacing between them.
– Place on the top shelf for fifteen minutes or until browned and golden. Take the tray out and pour the gravy over the meat, returning them to the oven for a further five minutes (basting well in the gravy is recommended).
– Serve on a bed of creamy mashed potato with seasonal greens.

I’m particularly partial to the addition of the jam to the gravy and the cheddar to the balls. This is a plate of sweet, rich, creamy, cheesy, meaty loveliness. Not a particularly technical critique, but it is what it is…simply the ultimate in comfort food.