Many of us are meatball fans, but I wanted to create a super-British, extra comforting version, so here we’re talking about the ULTIMATE meatballs: big in size, made with sweet onions, stuffed with great artisanal Cheddar that melts as they cook then oozes out of the middle, plus a ridiculous, filthy-good onion and ale gravy that’ll keep you going back for more. There’s not much more to say really - - once you start, you just have to finish.
Big British Meatballs
2 large onions
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground chuck steak
1 handful of bread crumbs
3 oz good-quality sharp Cheddar cheese
7 oz finely ground chuck steak
1 large onion
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 beef bouillon cube
¾ cup pale ale
2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon blackcurrant jam
2 teaspoons English mustard
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
For the meatballs, peel the onions, pick the rosemary leaves, then finely chop them together (or blitz in a food processor) and put into a large frying pan on medium heat with a lug of oil, the Worcestershire sauce, and a good splash or two of water. Cook for around 20 minutes, or until the liquid has disappeared and the onions are sweet and lightly caramelized, stirring occasionally. Season to taste, leave aside to cool, then put into a bowl with the ground meat and bread crumbs. Using clean hands, mix it all together beautifully, scrunching for a minute to create a delicious texture. Divide into 16 equal sized balls, then wash your hands and cut the cheese into 16 cubes. Poke and push a piece of cheese into the center of each ball, then gently roll into perfect balls. Take pride in your balls, repeat, until they’re all done, and place in the fridge.
For the gravy, put the ground meat into a large saucepan with a little oil and cook until golden, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, peel the onion and finely chop with rosemary leaves, then add the ground meat and cook for another 5 minutes, or until lightly golden. Crumble the bouillon cube, then pour in the ale. Cook away until nice and dark, then stir in the flour, jam, mustard, vinegar, and 3 cups of water. Simmer for around 30 minutes, or until rich and thick, then season to perfection. Preheat the oven to full whack (475 degrees Fahrenheit) and preheat a high-sided roasting pan.
When you’re ready to go, drizzle the preheated pan with oil and add the balls, leaving nice gaps between them. Blast at the top of the oven for around 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove the pan, pour the gravy over the balls, and pop them back into the oven for about 5 more minutes, to get everything cooked into each other – sometimes I even baste the balls with a little gravy to give them a lovely shine. Serve on mashed potatoes or smashed root veggie, with some lovely seasonal greens on the side.