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A warming and welcoming dish

September 23, 2014

Sweet and sour meatballs with red cabbage

On Page 48 of ‘The Purple Rose’, the protagonist makes this dish trying to welcome home her husband, though their relationship is strained. This below is how I make the dish but there are many variations and it requires a lot of tasting and testing as you cook, so have a few spoons ready.

These can be served together or as separate dishes and best with some plain, boiled rice.

Meat balls

Freshly minced meat : 1 lb

1 onion finely chopped

1 egg lightly beaten

Salt/pepper to taste

Medium Matzah meal (available at all major supermarkets)

Oil or marg for frying/cooking

AND – Optional flavourings

Treacle/brown sugar/lemon juice

Small squeeze of tomato paste/purée, drop of Worcs sauce

Mustard powder. Stock cube or powder.  Big fry pan with lid.

For the cabbage

1 good sized red cabbage, sliced and cut across

1 big cooking apple, peeled & roughly chopped

Half an onion finely chopped or grated

Wine or cider vinegar

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Stock cube or powder

Soft dark brown sugar

Oil or margarine for frying

Big frying pan, with lid

AND Optional for the sweet part of the sweet and sour:

Cassis OR red wine OR date syrup

A handful of sultanas OR fresh dates, chopped.

( Sultanas if using wine or cassis, dates if using date syrup)

Method: Meat balls.

Mix onions into the meat. Add the lightly beaten egg till well combined. Sprinkle matzah meal into it, spoonful by spoonful mixing until you feel it holding together. Leave to ‘solidify’ for five mins. Once they are malleable, wet hands and roll balls of the mixture between your palms, making balls bit bigger than a golf ball. Sprinkle some meal onto a sheet of cling film or foil on the worktop and roll each ball over it – that makes them a little crispy when cooked.

Once all are ready, heat oil on very high heat and fry till brown and sealed all over: keep rolling them over and over, turning down the heat if it seems too hot or is burning the meat balls. They will shrink, so add more balls as you go along and more oil if necessary. Once they’re all sealed, add a little boiling water to prevent sticking, keep stirring and turn down the heat to simmer. Add a little tomato past/puree, some Worcs sauce to taste, black pepper, sprinkle of mustard powder, another splash of water, a tablespoon of treacle, two teaspoons of lemon juice and more water. Stir all the time.

Add still more water and sprinkle on stock powder or cube, crumbled.

Put on lid and after they’ve simmered for about 5 mins, TASTE.

Then it’s up to you to add more or any of the sweet or sour flavouring to make a balanced but not overpowering sweet n sour combo. Simmer for at least 30 mins. Keep tasting as the meat flavour mixes with your flavouring. Taste and enjoy.

Method for red cabbage.

Fry the little onion in oil, on high, till soft and brown

Add cabbage to this with a little brown sugar and stir. If it catches, add a little boiling water and stir further. Add the apple, vinegar, lemon juice, then half a glass of cassis/wine/, a tablespoon of date syrup or treacle, salt and pepper to taste. STIR. TASTE. Add a little more water and simmer, stirring. Then add stock. Put on lid and simmer for at least half an hour or till the cabbage it cooked but not too soggy. Keep tasting to check it’s neither too sour or too sweet. It’s your call! Enjoy.

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