Cantonese Spiced Pork Meatball and Watercress Soup
2 tbsp. peanut oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 quarts beef broth
½ c. tomato puree
1 tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
1½ lb. ground lean pork
½ c. half-way cooked long-grain rice
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. minced watercress
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In large saucepan or pot, warm oil over moderate heat, add onion and garlic and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomato puree, allspice and nutmeg; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine pork, partially cooked rice, egg, watercress, salt and pepper in large bowl, mix thoroughly with your hands until well blended and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture is fluffy. To shape meatballs, roll mixture into balls about ½-inch in diameter.
Drop meatballs into the simmering broth and stir gently to keep them from sticking to one another. Cover pan and simmer soup about 30 minutes longer. Serve piping hot in wide soup bowls. Yield: 6 servings.
— “From the Ground Up,” by James Villas
Spiced Chicken and Ham Spread
1 c. coarsely chopped cooked chicken
1 c. coarsely chopped cooked ham
1 tbsp. minced sweet pickle
1 tbsp. grated lemon rind
4 tbsp. (½ stick) butter, softened
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste
Run chicken and ham through the meat grinder or food processor.
In a bowl, combine mixture with pickle and lemon zest. Add the butter, nutmeg, salt, pepper and Tabasco, and mix until well blended and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes. Serve on thin rounds of rye bread or crackers. Yield: about 2½ cups.
— Adapted slightly from “From the Ground Up,” by James Villas
Grilled Lamb Kefta
Kefta are oblong ground-lamb patties on skewers. You could also make them into patties for the grill.
1 lb. finely ground lamb
½ red onion, peeled and grated
1/3 c. roughly chopped fresh parsley
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed, soaked in water for 30 minutes, then squeezed dry
½ tbsp. ground cumin
Pinch of cinnamon
2 tbsp. paprika
Dash of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
In a large bowl combine the lamb, onion, parsley, bread, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Wet your hands with water, then mix the ingredients together very well with your hands (wet them periodically so the meat doesn't stick to them), until the mixture has a uniform, almost silken consistency. Don't skimp on the mixing — getting the right consistency is key. As you knead, the fat will disappear into the meat and eventually the mixture will have a consistency almost like wet bread dough: smooth and somewhat shiny and a little tacky. Divide this mixture into 8 to 12 portions, then either form each portion into an oblong sausage shape around a flat-sided skewer or shape it into a small patty.
Prepare the grill.
Place the kefta skewers or patties on the grill and cook until they are just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. (To check for doneness, cut into one and peek to be sure it is done the way you like it; the authors recommend that the meat be just barely pink inside.)
Remove from the grill and serve hot or at room temperature with pita bread and yogurt. Yield: 4 servings as an appetizer.
— From “Let the Flames Begin,” by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, diced
½ c. diced red bell pepper
1 lb. potatoes, boiled until just tender, chilled, peeled and diced
2 c. ground (or diced) cooked roast beef, turkey, ham, lamb or corned beef
1 c. chicken stock, divided
½ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme, or 2 tsp. dried
½ c. minced fresh parsley, divided
Heat a 12-inch nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron pan over medium heat. (A cast iron skillet of this size will take a few minutes to heat up.) Add oil and butter and, when the foam subsides, add the onion and diced pepper.
Toss to coat with the oil/butter mixture and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and just starting to brown. Add potatoes and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are lightly browned.
Add the meat, ½ cup chicken stock, salt, pepper to taste, thyme and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir to combine.
Cook without stirring for about 7 minutes or until the bottom of hash is browned and has a crust. Break up the hash, mixing the crust back into the meat-potato mixture; repeat twice as crust forms on the bottom. Add additional stock ¼ cup at a time as the mixture starts to dry. After the last crust is formed, taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Allow a final crust to form on the bottom, sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve in wedges with poached eggs, if desired. Yield: 6 servings.
— From “The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook,” by Christopher Kimball