Tonight we had a very simple dinner, and I thought this would be great as an appetizer too. Simple to prepare, a nice mix of flavours, not too complex for kids and ingredients that are easily accessible, and possibly already in your fridge/pantry.
The key to this quick meal is the chutney. The meatballs are a slight variation on any basic meatball recipe you might have made already, but it’s the chutney that makes this recipe.
The chutney can be prepared in a skillet as follows:
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add 1-1/2 to 2 cups of chopped onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt – use Kosher salt if you have it. Cook it over medium heat until the onions are just golden – this shouldn’t be longer than 10 minutes. Make sure you stir it a lot. Add 3 apples (Granny Smith are best, as they’re slightly tarter – peeled, cored and chopped as finely as you chopped the onion), 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of honey. Keep cooking the mixture over medium heat until most of the moisture is absorbed/evaporated. Add about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of water to the mix and simmer it, covered, for about 20 minutes – until the apples are nice and tender.
As far as the meatballs go, they’re simple:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, just lightly beaten
2 tbsp. minced onion
1/3 cup of blue cheese crumbles – if you don’t like blue cheese, you can use feta cheese as well – it’s great either way
Mix the ingredients and add about a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of freshly ground pepper and form small meatballs. Just broil them on a baking sheet (either non-stick or lined with foil and sprayed with PAM) for about 8 minutes, up to 10 minutes – as long as they are cooked through.
That’s it! Serve the meatballs with the chutney. We have tried this a number of ways – you can toss the meatballs in the chutney or serve them separately. Our preference is to serve them separately with home-made pita chips. The flavours go together very well. If you choose to use feta, it will have a less strong taste obviously and might have a higher CAF (child-acceptance factor). We’ve served it as an appetizer, and in that case, we sprinkle it with more blue or feta cheese crumbles and we’ve also added flat-leaf parsley as a nice way to catch the eye.
Our kids’ reactions: Abigail – she eats most things and enjoys them – she enjoys this, but with feta cheese – blue cheese is a bit too complex for her, I think. Amalie – she’s pickier – she enjoyed this as well, with the exception of the chutney. She liked the meatballs, regardless of cheese choice, and obviously pita chips are a great way to get her to eat.
Hope you enjoy it!