I often wonder whether preparing the perfect dish is a little like experiencing the ‘perfect storm’ – every element that goes towards making that dish something special comes together all at once. It can’t be planned for, it just happens. Well, this dish to me when I made it recently had just that combination to it. I had bought some wonderful minced veal and pork from our local butcher and had just made some chicken stock. It was a warm evening and whilst I had pasta on the planner for that night, I was undecided what to prepare. I wanted something light, refreshing, simple in flavour and different. Not much to ask!!
Sitting down with my recipe books, as it my want, I came across this recipe from Lisa Featherby in a Gourmet Traveller magazine and it just leapt out at me – this was it, and what a joy it was. It was like Venice in a bowl and with a bottle of Taltarni Rosso Sangiovese Blend 2009, the meal was perfect. Do try this dish, you won’t be disappointed.
Veal and parmesan meatballs in broth with ditalini
60 ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 slices soft sandwich bread
60 ml milk
500g minced veal
250g minced pork
2 garlic cloves, crushed
35g finely grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
180g ditalini, or other short pasta
1.2 litres home-made or good quality chicken stock
2 cups (1 small bunch) thinly sliced cavolo nero
Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add onion and stir until tender (3-5 minutes). Meanwhile, soak bread in milk until liquid is absorbed (2 minutes), then finely chop, return to bowl and add onion (set pan aside). Combine veal, pork, garlic and parmesan in a separate bowl, then add onion mixture and season well. Knead to combine, then form into golf-ball-sized meatballs.
Cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (10 minutes), then drain and divide among 4 bowls.
Meanwhile, wipe frying pan clean, add remaining oil and cook the meatballs in batches over high heat, turning occasionally, until golden and just cooked through (6-8 minutes).
Bring chicken stock to the boil, add cavolo nero and meatballs, return to the boil, then serve scattered with extra parmesan to taste.