Argued with my hairdresser for 45 minutes about whether to cut my hair short or not (did it)...
Had nightmares about the mountain of wine bottles I needed to source for work...
Had a life-changing burger experience at Porteño (pulled pork with coriander and smoked paprika aioli, a glimpse of a burger-fuelled Argentinean heaven)...
Jumped into Sydney Harbour without thinking about how I would get myself out again...
Ate a cake shaped like a train...
And made meatballs.
This all might sound like mundane stuff to you, but in fact, it's been glorious. Except for the oyster cuts on my knees, jumping in the harbour on a whim in my knickers should have been planned a little better. Oysters; tasty on the tongue, rough on the knees.
This dish was somewhere up there in the fun stakes next to the train cake, which will be featured here soon, and FYI that means super-fun. I love squidging raw mince with my fingers.
The eggplant ragu was bookmarked immediately when I came across it on Luisa's luscious blog over at The Wednesday Chef (go visit RIGHT NOW, she was the complete inspiration behind Stovetop Revolution). She called it "let my eggplant go free! sauce" and was totally right (as always). The eggplant is let out of it's cage, it is melted down into an ugly, albeit fabulous, brown swamp, which coats the meatballs and soaks into the spaghetti like a light fog.
Pork meatballs need fennel, there is no room for query here, it is a must. They sing yet don't scream with each bite. The process of rolling up the balls of meat must also be accompanied with a glass of crisp white wine, you look like you need it.
Pork and Fennel Meatballs with Eggplant Ragu:
Eggplant sauce adapted from The Wednesday Chef
1 slice fresh white bread, shredded and crusts removed
1 teaspoon milk
250g pork mince
2 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons finely shopped flat leaf parsley
2t tablespoons olive oil
1 large eggplant sliced into 2cm slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock (or water)
2 sprigs oregano, chopped
1/2 a can of diced tomatoes
Lightly salt the eggplant slices and stack back together. Leave to drain for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the meatballs; soak the torn bread slice in the milk until is is all absorbed. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together using your hands until all combined. Season with salt and pepper. Roll out about three tablespoons of the mixture (or however big you like) into balls. Heat oil in a large saucepan and cook meatballs, turning occasionally for about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
Dry eggplant slices with paper towel and chop into cubes. Heat the oil with the garlic in a large saucepan. When the garlic starts sizzling add the eggplant and toss to coat in the oil. Saute the eggplant until soft and translucent, add the oregano and stir. Add the stock and bring to the boil. (at this point put on the spaghetti!)
When boiled, turn the heat down to medium low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until all the stock has pretty much absorbed. Mash it up with a fork until it's well... saucy... add the tomatoes and stir until it comes to the boil. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
Add meatballs and spaghetti to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve with freshly chopped parsley and grated parmesan.