Oven baked pisto pork meatballs: upgrading a classic Spanish recipe
This week I have been fancying a good meatballs dish because it’s been a while since I last cooked them. And yesterday I was on my day off so I had plenty of time to imagine what would I cook. I had the minced pork (of course) and the bottom of my fridge was literally stuffed with fresh vegetables. If you are thinking of pisto and meatballs let me say you can’t be more correct.
At this stage, you already know that pisto is a very recurrent recipe in my day to day. Better said: it’s a real staple. There is no week I don’t cook it. It’s healthy, filling and gets ready in no time. I often say that, when it’s well done, it’s the meal that initiate the extremest meat eaters in the world of vegetarianism. My problem is that sometimes I merge both elements into one of the best meat stews you can ever try. I think sometimes I just can’t choose one.
Usually, cooking it would be very simple. I would shape the meatballs, sear them, cook the pisto and finally sink them in the sauce so the inside gets done. This is the traditional way. However, I found chef Enrique Sanchez (another recurrent element in my kitchen) did them recently in a quite innovative way: oven baked. How amazing! I honestly never thought about it before.
In essence, it’s the same dish with only two differences. It’s finished in the oven and a creamy touch it’s added up with the white sauce on top (or bechamel sauce, as you wish). He cooks a simple pisto, but he balances it with a meatballs drizzle that is a real blast. Also, he makes the white sauce by grinding a boiled cauliflower with olive oil. Since I couldn’t find any in my local stores, I had to stick to the standard recipe. All in all, it was quite satisfactory and routine-breaking. I will do it again, for sure.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 12 MEATBALLS)
For the meatballs
Minced pork (500 g)
Smoked paprika (1/2 teaspoon)
Dijon mustard (a pinch)
For the pisto
Garlic cloves (3)
Red pepper (half)
Green pepper (half)
Canned tomato (200 g/half can)
For the white sauce
Onion (1/2 small)
Plain flour (1 tbsp)
Milk (150 ml)
Ground nutmeg (a pinch)
DIRECTIONS FOR COOKING
THE MEATBALLS. In a bowl, drop all the ingredients and blend together until you achieve a soft, moist mixture. Shape then 12 balls and set aside for later.
THE PISTO. Heat up some olive oil in a deep pan (such a wok) or a pot. Finely chop all the ingredients and drop them in as you go. Peel both the courgette and the aubergine. Simmer at medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until they become tender. Add salt and pepper. Then, add the tomato and cook until all the water evaporates (about 5 minutes). Spread it evenly over your baking tray and place the meatballs on top.
THE WHITE SAUCE. In a sauce pan, simmer the onion with a pinch of salt. Then, add the flour and cook for two minutes. Pour the milk gradually and stir in circular motion until the sauce becomes slightly thicker. Season with the salt, the pepper and the ground nutmeg. Finally, pour it over the meatballs.
THE FINAL TOUCH. I grated some Parmiggiano cheese on top before putting it into the oven. You can do the same, add another grated cheese or just skip this step. Bake at 200 Celsius for 15 minutes and they will be ready to eat.