Polpette, meatballs, or ….

Once again, I reached into the gastronomic lucky dip that is our freezer, that great storage zone for all things local and perishable. The day before yesterday I fished out a bag of locally produced beef mince. I used it to make polpette. This is probably not worth making with cheap mince, but they were great with what we had. I used the mixture to make polpette (small meat balls) the first night, and then formed the rest of the mixture into patties and had them as burgers in buns. The following recipe will serve six. I got it from ‘Italian Food’ by Elizabeth David.


  • 450g good quality organic local mince
  • 2 slices white bread
  • milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • nutmeg
  • a little lemon rind
  • plain flour
  • olive oil


  • Cut the crusts off the bread, and soak for fifteen minutes in milk
  • Squeeze the excess milk from the bread, which should be really mushy.
  • Add the garlic, parsley, tiny strips of a little bit of lemon peel, seasoning and spices and blend in a food processer. It is possible to do this by hand as well.
  • Add the bread mixture to the mince, and beat in the egg, until everything is well mixed
  • Next, flour a board and your hands. Form little slightly flat meat balls from the mixture, each just over an inch across, and coat with flour. Make a little dent in the top of each meat ball.Fry in hot oil. I think you can deep-fry these, but I just fried them in a pan. When they are done drain them on paper before serving.

I served these with pasta and tomato sauce. The book suggests serving them with a green salad. The next night, as I said, I made small burgers out of the mixture, possibly a culinary crime, but it was very tasty.

Venison in red wine

This is a recipe from Elizabeth David ‘French Provincial Cooking’. We are making our way through the prodigious quantities of food in the freezer, and this time I hauled out a stew pack of venison. This was easy and tasty, I used the timer function on my oven to cook it slowly through the afternoon. 


  • Around 900g to 1kg venison. If it is in one piece, tie it to a sausage shape
  • 4 tbsp full-bodied red wine
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flour (I used gluten-free flour)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 rashers of streaky bacon 
  • 1 onion, sliced


  • Put the venison in a container with a lid, and add the red wine, vinegar and olive oil. Leave to marinade overnight. 
  • Put the meat in a smallish casserole dish with the marinade. In a small cup, mix the flour with a little marinade to make a paste, and stir that in, also add the bay leaves and salt and pepper. 
  • Over the top of the meat, layer slices of onion and then streaky bacon. 
  • Cover, and cook at 150C for four hours. 

We served this with fried mushrooms and potato and celeriac mash. 

Italian potato pie

My potatoes are getting harvested, and I am trying out potato recipes. The first lot that I lifted were Arran Pilot, with white flesh that mashes very well. I made this from a recipe in Elizabeth David’s ‘Italian Food’. I also used some local free-range eggs. 


  • 1 Kg of potatoes that mash well
  • 100g Gruyere or Emmental cheese, sliced
  • 75g cooked ham or Italian sausage (I used Fonteluna sausage from Valvona and Crolla), sliced
  • 2 eggs, boiled for around 7 minutes and peeled
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 75g butter
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste


  • Peel and boil the potatoes until cooked, around 16 minutes. Mash them with about 40g butter and the milk, and put them through a mouli or potato ricer to make a very soft smooth mash. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
  • Grease a dish with butter (I used a small lasagne dish) and then coat the bottom and sides with 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • Put half the mashed potatoes in the bottom of the dish, then add the cheese, ham and chopped boiled eggs in a layer. Cover this with the rest of the mashed potato. Sprinkle the rest of the breadcrumbs over the top and dot with butter.
  • Cook the pie in a hot oven (around 200C) for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden. 

I served this with shredded kale. It is good with any green vegetable, or with a green salad.