Meatballs with Sticky Blackberry-Anise Sauce


You need something fruity to balance the comforting heft of these meatballs. Usually it’d be a redcurrant or lingonberry sauce, but I’ve opted for something a little darker: an inky blackberry sauce, spiked with anise for a gentle liquorice sweetness. You can make a sauce with a little beef stock and double cream, too, if you really want to go all out, but I don’t think these meatballs need it. Glazed with dark blackberry and served with buttery mash, this is a comfort food dream without any overwhelming richness.

Makes 32, serving 4

For the sauce:
350g blackberries
225g caster sugar
50ml water
3 star anise
1 dried bay leaf
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

For the meatballs:
250g pork mince
250g beef mince
50g white breadcrumbs
2 shallots or ½ onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
75ml milk
Oil, for frying

First, prepare the blackberry sauce. Heat all the sauce ingredients in a small pan and simmer for 15 minutes, crushing the blackberries under the back of a spoon as it cooks. When the mixture is syrupy, strain out the blackberry seeds through a fine mesh sieve. Set the strained mixture back over the heat and simmer for 5–10 minutes, until sticky and thicker. Leave to cool and turn jammy, then add a little more water if the sauce is too sticky, or place back over the heat for a few minutes if it’s not quite thick enough. Set aside while you prepare the meatballs, re-warming it when the rest of the dish is ready.

Combine all the meatball ingredients except the oil in a large bowl, and work together using your hands.

Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Shape the meatball mixture into 32 small balls and cook them over a high heat for 3 minutes, turning frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for a further 10–12 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

Serve with the blackberry sauce – you can toss this through the meatballs in the pan, with a splash of water, if you want to glaze them all over – and heaps of smooth mash.

  ©Charlotte Bland, 2015

©Charlotte Bland, 2015