Small meatballs are a great tapa. This is a really nice blend to form into patties for breakfast sausages, either with or without the mustard-cream sauce…though, you know…it’s all about the sauce! Or it should be. Meatballs are universally delicious. Every culture seems to have a version. We don’t tend to use ground pork for meatballs. Yes, we use it as part of a mix, but not solo. We need to correct that. I also like to use dry potato flakes, instead of bread crumbs. They have a neutral flavor, add more nutrition and they make the meatballs gluten-free.
I like to combine the meatball ingredients several hours before shaping them. I combine everything, then using my fingers and as light a touch as possible, I mix it all together, cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Or overnight, if that works best.
When I make meatballs, I usually use a small ice cream scoop…you know, the kind with a lever release. I put them on a rack and bake them. If they aren’t completely cooked through, it’s okay. You can sauce them and put them in the oven to finish, if that works better for you, or you can simple simmer them in the mustard sauce. Either way, they are better made ahead and reheated. I briefly sautéed the apple chunks in butter, but of course, I took no pictures of that phase. I didn’t cook them completely, as I wanted to finish them in the sauce. The Mustard-Cream Sauce is a reduction cream sauce. Sauté the shallots in the butter until they begin to soften. Deglaze the pan with the bourbon; simmer for 30 seconds, then add the cream. Simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Add those apple chunks. Here’s a picture of that phase:Continue to simmer until it reaches the consistency you want. I usually leave it a bit thinner than I ultimately want it to be, as the mustard will thicken it a bit. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mustard. Pour the sauce over or add the meatballs and leave them, to finish later, if that works best for you. If, on the other hand, you want to finish them, place the dish in a 350°F oven and bake until the mixture is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Serve, scatter chives over, dust lightly with ground allspice or a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper flakes. If you want to serve as a main course, double the sauce recipe, don’t reduce it quite as much and serve with cooked rice or pasta. As Ina would say, “How easy is that?”
Piglet Meatballs with Sautéed Apples, in a Mustard-Cream Sauce
- 1 1/4 pounds leaner ground pork
- 3 tablespoon dry potato flakes
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon (dry) fines herbes or 1/2 teaspoon dry tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon onion granules
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic granules
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, very finely chopped
- 1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and cubed (about 1/2-inch pieces)
- 2 tablespoon butter
- Mustard-Cream Sauce:
- 3 tablespoon very finely minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3-4 tablespoons bourbon
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
For the meatballs: Combine the meatball ingredients several hours before shaping them. Using you fingers (or a fork), and as light a touch as possible, mix the meatball ingredients together. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or overnight. The mixture needs to be cold when you form the meatballs.
To form the meatballs: An ice cream scoop with a lever release works great for this. The meatballs, for a tapa portion, should be about 1-inch in diameter. After forming, they may be sautéed in a skillet or placed on a rack and baked in a 350°F oven, for about 15 minutes. They do not have to be completely cooked through. MAKE AHEAD: The meatballs may be prepared to this point, cooled and chilled for up to 2 days.
To prepare the apples: Heat the butter in a skillet; add the apple chunks. Sauté until they just begin to soften, but don’t over-cook the apples, as they will finish in the sauce and oven. Set aside.
About 30 minutes prior to serving, make the Mustard-Cream Sauce: Sauté the shallots in the butter until they just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the bourbon; cook for 30 seconds, then add the cream. Simmer for 2 minutes, then add the apple chunks and any accumulated juice. Continue to simmer until the mixture is the thickness desired, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the mustard until thoroughly combined. Pour over the meatballs. Place in a 350°F oven and cook for about 15 minutes, until the sauce bubbles and the meatballs are heated through. Remove from the oven, garnish with a dusting of ground allspice, scatter with chives or sprinkle with Aleppo pepper flakes. It’s best to allow these to cool just slightly before serving.
NOTE: The meat mixture makes fine breakfast sausage patties. Also, to serve as a main course, double the sauce ingredients and serve over cooked rice or pasta.
Piglet Meatballs with Sautéed Apples, in a Mustard-Cream Sauce Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019. All rights reserved.