Orzo with meatballs

This is a bit of a mixture of recipes. My daughter left some Orzo pasta when she last visited. I hadn’t come across it before, it looks like large bits of rice. So I googled and tested and used what was in my fridge and freezer. This is heavily based on Nigella Lawson’s dish of the same name, but there are other twists from similar recipes. 

You could use one of my other meatball recipes to make the meatball mixture, but I followed the method below. The recipe makes six servings. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g mince
  • 1 large egg
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 litre cold water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano (I actually used the mystery herbs)
  • 60ml red vermouth or red wine
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300g orzo pasta

METHOD:

  • Put the mince, egg, breadcrumbs, garlic, oregano, parmesan and 1 tsp salt into a large mixing bowl, and mix to a smooth paste. Leave to chill in the fridge for half an hour minimum.
  • Heat the oven to 180C
  • Make small meatballs from the mixture, about the size of a large marble. I made around 35. They should be small enough to eat whole without looking greedy. Put them onto the bottom of a roasting tray or baking sheet. 
  • Bake the meatballs in the oven for around fifteen minutes. 
  • MEANWHILE get ready for the sauce and pasta. Get the ingredients assembled. 
  • Heat the oil in a large casserole dish or pan with a lid. Cook the chopped onion over a medium heat for around 10 minutes until very soft and cooked
  • Add the herbs and stir them in, before adding the vermouth. 
  • Once the vermouth is hot and bubbling, add the tomatoes, and rinse out the tins with the water before adding that as well. Add 1 tsp salt at this stage. 
  • Bring the mixture back to a simmer, and let it cook with the lid on for around twenty minutes.
  • Add the orzo and the meatballs, bring back to a simmer, and cook with the lid on for a further ten to fifteen minutes. The orzo has a tendency to stick, so the occasional stir will help. 
  • Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with parmesan shavings and chopped parsley. 
  • I also served a dish of grilled asparagus and buttered baby carrots. 

Risotto with Beef and Tomato Ragu

You can make this with any left-over bolognese Ragu, or do as I did – make the ragu from scratch. I made double, ate some for tea with pasta, froze some, and made the risotto with the rest. This is from Risotto Risotto.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 slices of unsmoked bacon, chopped
  • 250g minced beef
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 400g can of tomatoes, pureed in the tin
  • 1 bayleaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 500g risotto rice
  • 1.5 litres of stock
  • 25g butter
  • 50g grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • Make the ragu sauce first, preferably the day before. Fry all the chopped vegetables and bacon in the oil until the vegetables are soft.
  • Add the mince and the wine, and fry until the meat is brown and the alcohol has boiled away.
  • Add the pureed tomatoes, bayleaf, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and leave to simmer for 2 hours until rich and dense. Check frequently to ensure that it is not ‘sticking’.
  • Next, add the rice to the ragu, and stir at a simmer until the mixture looks dry.
  • Keep the stock on the boil, and add a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before the next ladleful is added.
  • Continue in this way for around 20 minutes; the rice will be firm and cooked through, and the risotto will be creamy. Take the risotto off the heat, remove the bayleaf, and stir in the butter and parmesan cheese.
  • Cover and leave to rest for a few minutes, before transferring to a warmed platter and serving.

Moroccan Beef and Fig Stew

This is one of a series of mince recipes. I have just bought a large quantity of mince from Dr Louise, who is downsizing her herd. Delicious dishes, I’m sure the great quality of the meat has a lot to do with it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g minced beef
  • 1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp ras-el-hanout
  • 8 dried figs, finely chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 150ml stock
  • Coriander leaf, chopped
  • 2 tsps lemon zest

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil or butter in a large pan over a medium heat, and gently fry the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, paprika, cumin and ras-el-hanout. Stir together and let this gently cook for around five minutes.
  • Add the beef, stir and cook until it is all well mixed, and the mince is browned.
  • Stir in the figs, tomatoes and tomato paste, then pour in the stock. Bring to a simmer, and let it cook over a low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the coriander and lemon zest just before serving.

I served this with nan bread.

Scotch Broth

I’ve no idea if I make this soup the best way, but this is how I do it. Scotch broth involves a lot of chopping. If I get a lamb neck, this is what I make. I adjust the quantities depending on what is available

INGREDIENTS:

  • Lamb or mutton neck, around 900g, trimmed of any surplus fat.
  • 500g leeks, one left whole, the rest chopped finely
  • 50g pearl barley
  • 250g carrots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 turnip, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • sprig of thyme
  • a bayleaf
  • finely chopped cabbage

METHOD:

  • In a large stock pan, make the basick stock for the soup as follows: Put the lamb neck, the whole leek, carrot, chopped onions, barley, turnip, black pepper and bayleaf into the pan, and  cover with water. Bring to the boil slowly and simmer for two hours or more, until the meat is well cooked and easy to remove from the lamb neck.
  • Fish out the whole leek and the lamb neck. When the lamb neck is cool enough, get as much meat off it as possible, chop it and return to the soup, along with the chopped leeks and shredded cabbage. Season the soup with salt. (This would be a good point to freeze any for later)
  • Bring back to the boil, and simmer gently for a further ten minutes or so before serving. The cabbage and the leeks should still be slightly crunchy.
  • Serve with bread, oatcakes or potatoes.

Ragu – bolognese sauce

This is the bolognese sauce that goes into lasagne, or any other kind of pasta. There are many versions of this sauce, this is based on more than one recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 250g beef mince
  • 50g pancetta or other bacon, ham, lardon etc
  • Butter
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes, pureed
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1 glass of ‘marigold’ stock
  • 1 bayleaf
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Chop the pancetta, or other bacon, and fry gently in a little butter
  • Chop and add the onion, celery and carrot, and continue to fry gently, until everything is browned.
  • Add the beef mince, and stir so that it is browned evenly.
  • Add the tomato and the white wine, and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and add the bayleaf.
  • Add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for at least 40 minutes. The longer the better.

I prefer to make this the night before, so that the flavour develops.