Monday, January 19, 2009

Giant meatballs, risotto-style orzo with butterbeans, and braised radishes

This will be one of my most ambitious postings. Pazienza.

I dreamed this up over the course of several days. I got a 2-pound tube of Jimmy Dean sausage from the manager’s specials bin at Safeway a few weeks ago and cut it into 2 pieces and froze it. While re-reading a recipe from the NY Times magazine from 2 weeks ago for Chris Cosentino’s malfatti, I found a way to use his concept for great big meatballs.

The picture is, of necessity, a collage comprising photos of orzo, a meatball, and braised radishes. For the radishes I must thank Lydia Bastianich. The recipe is hers. I include it here because this entrée is a one-dish meal for 4 and you’ll want everything if you want to try it.

The method of making risotto-style orzo is pretty standard, except for the (inspired I would say) addition of the butterbeans.

I stake my claim when it comes to the meatballs. A person could certainly make small meatballs, but this was just whimsical enough to amuse yours truly.

Giant meatballs, orzo with butterbeans, and braised radishes
For the meatballs:
1 lb sausage, any kind, casing removed
3 oz. crusty bread, cubed
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter
½ onion, fine chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp flour
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Put the bread cubes into a food processor and only slightly pulse until roughly chopped.

Put the bread in a large bowl and soak it in the cream.

Melt the butter in a little olive oil and sauté the garlic and onion until soft, 3-4 minutes.

Add the sausage and egg yolks to the bowl with the bread and combine.

Add the breadcrumbs and flour and mix in.

Add salt and pepper.

Put 1 tsp of the mixture into the microwave for 30 seconds and taste for seasonings. If necessary, spice it up with pinches of dried oregano, thyme, and/or ground fennel seed; or, of course, more salt and pepper.

Form the remaining sausage mixture into 4 large balls.

Line a shallow baking pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.

Bake the meatballs uncovered until they reach an internal temperature of 165°. Mine took about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and allow to rest 5-10 minutes.

For the orzo:
1 cup orzo pasta
½ onion, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 14.5 oz can of butter beans
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup white wine
lemon pepper
finely chopped scallion greens or parsley
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat the chicken stock to a simmer and add ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp lemon pepper or white pepper.

Heat 1 tbsp of the butter and 1 tbsp oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, reduce heat to medium and sauté until softened but not colored, 4-5 minutes.

Add the orzo and stir to coat. Continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and allow it to be absorbed.

Add enough chicken stock to just cover the orzo. Simmer and stir often. When most of the stock has been absorbed add another ½ cup. Stir occasionally. Repeat until the orzo is tender/al dente. It will take 10-12 minutes.

Drain and rinse the butter beans. Add to the orzo along with the other tbsp of butter and heat through.

For the radishes:
1 bunch organic radishes with their greens.*
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Cover the radishes with water in your sink. Gently shake them under the water. Remove and empty the sink, rinsing any grit down the drain. Repeat this 2 more times.

Melt the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a sauté pan.

If any of the radishes are large, cut them almost in half from bottom to top. Don’t cut all the way through because you want the greens intact.

Add the radishes to the sauté pan and toss them until the greens start to wilt.

Add the stock, salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a simmer.

Cover the pan and braise the radishes at a bare simmer until they are softened but still with a little crunch, about 6-8 minutes.

To assemble this dish, ladle orzo into wide heated bowls. Top each portion with 1 meatball. Place a few radishes next to each meatball and drape the greens over it. Scatter scallions or parsley over everything, sprinkle with a little lemon juice (to taste), and drizzle with a bit of olive oil if you wish. Serve.

*In my experience, the green tops of non-organic radishes don’t cut the mustard. Organic ones are much more appropriate to this recipe. The rinsing is essential. Radishes are always dirty when you buy them.

For a free excerpt of my book, “A Year of Food,” in which I opine, report, cook, muse and philosophize about everything that passed my lips for an entire year, write to me at:

No comments:

Tuesday Tag-Along

Tuesday Tag-Along

Foodie BlogRoll