from one generation to the next
This is another dish of my Mum’s from the late 1960s. Casserole cookery was all the rage then, it was a new and innovative method of cooking the entire meal in one dish in the oven. Splayds (a sharp edged spoon) and sporks (a spoon with tines at the tip) were subsequently invented so you could easily eat with just one hand while sitting in front of the TV, or standing at a buffet party.
Mum generally chose to make casserole recipes when she entertained. She’d do all the preparation work well ahead of time, then gently reheat the casseroles in the oven. Sadly most of Mum’s casserole recipes have dated badly, at least to my taste. They are all flavoured with commercial soup mixes, a large proportion of them with tomato soup and this recipe in it’s original form is no exception.
I’ve used chorizo instead of bacon and crushed tomatoes and tomato concentrate instead of soup. I also added some herbs, spices and chilli to enhance the complexity of the flavour. Unfortunately I overlooked the fact that even par cooked pasta would be over cooked after an hour in the oven so in the future I will cook it at the last minute and then spoon the meatballs and sauce over the pasta into a serving bowl, or forego the pasta altogether.
Mum’s Mexican Meatballs was a blast from the past, an enjoyable family meal despite the over cooked pasta.
500g minced steak
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
60g chorizo, minced
1 red onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, cut into 1cm dice
1/2 red capsicum, cut into 1cm dice
400g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon tomato concentrate
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilli
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, sugar
125g macaroni par cooked
Pre heat the oven to 160C
Par boil the pasta for 3/4 of the manufacturers recomended cooking time. Drain then refresh in iced water. Oil a deep casserole dish, then tip in the pasta so it covers the base.
Season the minced steak well with sea salt, pepper and 1/2 of the garlic. Knead the seasoning into the minced steak then then roll it into 12 meatballs of equal size. Lay the meatballs on top of the pasta.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan, add the capsicums, onion, chorizo and remaining garlic, and sauté until soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato concentrate, water herbs, spices and red kidney beans. Bring the pan to the boil, taste and season. Pour the sauce over the meatballs. Cover the casserole dish and bake for 1 hour.
Sprinkle the surface generously with chopped parsley, then serve.