03 Jun Smoked Paprika Meatballs
What a difference a few degrees make. It’s been a blissful week on our island, as the sun has shone down on us with more verve than we’ve seen in quite some time. As a nation, I think we’re programmed to forget how delicious sunshine is. It helps us cope with our greyer days, which can be beautiful in their own, austere way. When we do experience proper heat, like sun cream and shorts in the city kind of heat, we are so grateful and surprised at how good it makes us feel.
Weather like this makes eating outside not just a possibility, but a national duty. Now, not all of us have access or space for a BBQ, and many of us have to race home from the office to catch the remaining slivers of sunlight soaking our backyards. In scenarios like these, it’s important to have BBQ-style suppers that can be cooked on a regular hob in a jiffy. My go-to are my mini-meatballs, which can be prepared and cooked within a half hour, without any compromise on taste or flavour.
I’ve flavoured my meatballs with plenty of smoked paprika and a good dose of tomato purée. It gives them a smoky flavour that is even further enhanced when cooking on a BBQ grill, but still tastes great when fried up in a regular old frying pan. On the side, I’ve gone for a simple harissa mayo and a cooling cucumber tzatziki, both of which are super speedy but scrumptious summertime sides.
The weather forecast has promised us a sunny weekend, which I intend to soak up at all given opportunities. I’ll be wearing flips flop and Factor 50 while eating meatballs in the sunshine. I hope the sun shines on you, too, wherever you are this weekend.
Serves 2 to 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
For the meatballs
450g of good quality beef mince
2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
For the harissa mayo
4 tablespoons of mayo
1 tablespoon of harissa paste
For the tzatziki
6 tablespoons of yoghurt
Half a cucumber
Half a lemon
Salt and pepper
4 flatbreads or pittas
- Remove the mince from its packaging and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the paprika, tomato purée and chilli flakes. Use a fine grater to grate the garlic into the bowl. Add the salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together until really well blended
- Use your hands to form 12 small meatballs out of the mince mixture. You can cover them and pop them in the fridge for up to 24 hours if you want to get ahead of yourself, but you can cook them straight away as well.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat. When nice and hot, add the meatballs and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned on the outside and cooked through.
- Meanwhile, make the harissa mayo by mixing the mayo and harissa paste together.
- Make the tzatziki by placing the yoghurt in a serving bowl. Slice the cucumber into small cubes and mix into the yoghurt. Add the zest of the half lemon, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper to the yoghurt, mixing well.
- When your meatballs are ready, pre-heat the flatbreads by giving them a blast in your oven. Be careful not to leave them in too long, as they go crispy very quickly.
- Place the flatbread on your serving plate and top with three meatballs. Add a dollop of harissa mayo and a dollop of tzatziki. Top with pomegranate seeds, freshly chopped mint and enjoy in the sun.
Kitchen Essential: Coolanowle Organic Farm
I’ve become committed to the “meat is a treat” philosophy, buying less meat but spending more on it when I do buy it, to ensure its provenance and animal welfare are of an exacting standard. Coolanowle Organic Farm in Co Laois sell their delicious homemade chorizo and organic meats at The Green Door Market in my neighbourhood of Dublin 8. Find them at www.coolanowle.com.
This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on Thursday 2nd of June 2016