While I’m away
sunning myself on the beach sitting in the shade with Piglet, the lovely Nicole from The Mum Reviews has provided a great recipe to share with you all. As a mum of two young boys she’s well experiences of cooking in the kitchen with kids! I think these meatballs sounds delish – I’ll definitely be trying them once I’m home.
I’ll admit up front that my husband does most of the cooking in our house. I am by no means an excellent nor dedicated cook, but I do like to cook something for my kids at least once a week.
Whether or not they will eat it is another matter.
My eldest is a very picky eater, but he loves to help out in the kitchen. And I’ve found that he’s more likely to eat something when he knows what’s in it. The pride factor of telling him he’s eating food he made himself seems to help as well. He takes after his mum when it comes to ego.
So I’m sharing this meatball recipe that is not only tasty and versatile, but also is something that the kids can help with. It’s possible for them to play a pretty big role in the prep without going anywhere near a knife or a hot stove.
* 500g mince (just your standard pack; it might have slightly more or less in mince in it and that’s fine)
* 1 small onion or a couple shallots, finely chopped
* Approx 20g parmesan cheese, grated
* 1 small slice of bread or 100g breadcrumbs
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 0.5 TB mixed herbs
* 1 egg
* salt & pepper
* small handful of flour
* vegetable oil for frying
* a food processor (optional but ideal)
* a kid-safe cheese grater (also optional but very exciting)
* a non-stick frying pan or saucepan
Before you call the kid to the kitchen:
Before you call your kid into the kitchen, get all the ingredients out on the countertop. Peel your onion and chop it into quarters, ready for the food processor.
Peel your garlic too. If you have a garlic mincer (one of those little squeezy things with holes), you can let your kid help you mince the garlic later. If you usually just chop your garlic, better do it now. Also, if you don’t have a child-safe cheese grater, it’s best to grate the cheese now too.
The bit the kid can help with:
Then shout for the kid and get him or her (henceforward I’m using him because mine is a him) to wash his hands and maybe put on a cute apron.
Have him dump the mince from the packet into a large mixing bowl.
Next, make your breadcrumbs.
Have your kid rip the slice of bread into a few pieces and throw it into the food processor. Let him turn the switch to whizz up the bread into crumbs. If you’re using ready-made crumbs, the kid can help weigh them out. Dump the crumbs into the bowl.
Have the kid throw the onion quarters into the food processor and whizz that up. Then a grownup needs to use a spatula to get all the onion safely out of the processor and into the bowl of mince.
If you have a child-safe cheese grater, now is the time to grate the parmesan. We love our one with a crank. My son thinks it’s so fun and his fingers get nowhere near anything sharp.
Once the cheese is grated, throw it into the bowl.
Add minced garlic to the bowl. My son likes to “help” me squeeze the garlic mincer even though his grip isn’t doing much!
Add the mixed herbs and then crack the egg straight into the bowl as well. Add about half a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper to your usual taste.
Now comes the really fun bit. Let your kid get his hands into the mince mixture in the bowl and manhandle it until it’s well mixed. Depending on your child’s age and motor skills, you may need to help them to be really thorough. [Mixing up the meatball mixture photo could go near here]
Once the mince mixture is all mixed, you can form the meatballs. Have your child help you roll them into balls slightly smaller than those annoying bouncy balls you get out of vending machines at arcades. It’s actually really nice to have two people doing this job, otherwise it takes ages.
It’s quite important to make sure the meatballs aren’t too big and are relatively uniform in size. You might need to readjust some of your kid’s meatballs.
Now kick your kid out of the kitchen:
You now need to dredge the meatballs in flour so they are lightly coated. Put a bit of flour in a bowl. I find it best to do one at a time, otherwise they will also bump against each other and maybe fall apart. An older child could help with this bit, but mine would have made a mess of it so I did it on my own.
Next, heat some oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. The pan should be quite hot as you want the meatballs to be brown on the outside. I usually do the meatballs in batches so they don’t get too crowded in the pan.
I put each meatball in the pan gently at first, turning gingerly with a wooden spoon. Then, when they start to get brown and have more structural integrity, I shake the pan around wildly to roll them around and help them brown evenly.
Serving and storing suggestions:
The best thing about these meatballs is that there are so many ways to serve them. Mix them with your favourite jarred or homemade tomato sauce and have spaghetti and meatballs. Or, you could have meatballs subs with the same sauce. You could have them cold in a sandwich with mayo, lettuce & tomato. Or you could serve them IKEA-style with mash, gravy and vegetables. When I made them for this post, I served them with leftover mash and red cabbage I had from yesterday’s roast.
You can put unused meatballs in a box in the fridge and use them randomly at will for the next 3 days. You can also freeze them for convenient meals later. Use baking parchment between layers of meatballs in a box so that they’re easy to get out of the box later. If you’re low on freezer space, you can transfer them to plastic bags once they’ve gone hard.
You can throw frozen meatballs straight into sauce as it cooks on the hob to reheat them later. Or you can bake them on a tray in the oven at 175C for 20 minutes.
How amazing do these look? We love pasta and meatballs – its a more recent favourite of ours. I usually buy our meatballs but I’ll be trying this recipe out.
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