Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 10 2012


You ready goulash meatballs? You think you can out-meatball the Frankies? You know you're facing some tough competition here. Those handball-sized hunks of beefy heaven are probably the best meatballs of my entire life. Yep, I said it. Best. Ever. So, show me what you got!

Ooh, very interesting. You're gonna add some ground pork to the mix. Now, I can definitely appreciate the flavor enhancement and fatty joy you get from the pork. In fact, I was always surprised the Frankies' meatballs were all beef. But, will it be enough?

Wait, now you're throwing in chopped peppers and onions? Cheater! Oh yeah... there aren't actually any meatball rules so you can do what you want. Do I really have to very finely chop them? I'm feelin' kinda lazy...

Well, now I see why I should have busted out the food processor and whirled the onion and peppers into submission. The pieces are too dang big and make it difficult to roll the mix into nice, neat balls. Too late now. Just go for it!

my onions are way too big!

Oh boy! Now I get to brown you, too! I really, really love this step. Fine, into the sizzling oil until browned and crispy. Whoops, I was supposed to dust you with flour before you hit the hot oil. Luckily, I remembered halfway through so I'll just give the remaining balls an extra dose and keep on browning. I'm pretty sure it's mostly intended as a thickener for the sauce, anyway, so I'm not too worried about it.

Once they're finally sufficiently browned, I whip up the sauce. Saute onion and bell pepper then stir in chopped tomatoes (from the garden!) and a huge scoop of hot Hungarian paprika. Nestle in the browned meatballs and stick in a fairly low oven. At this point, the paprika in the sauce is astringent and overpowering, but you guys are going to simmer for 1-1/2 hours so I'm pretty sure it will mellow out.

slow-simmered goulash meatballs

Done! The sauce has gotten all cozy with the meatballs and relaxed quite a bit, but it still has a bit of a bite. But then I swirl in the crème fraîche (of course) and the sauce blooms. The creamy crème fraîche adds the luscious factor the sauce was missing and gives it a glossy richness.


So... that was days and days ago and since then I've been having a couple meatballs for lunch each day, but we were always busy in the evenings and not eating at home so I hadn't had a chance to try this dish complete. Wait no longer! We are having goulash meatballs over buttered pasta for lunch today. And lunch is served.


Served over noodles, they are pretty good. But, sorry goulashy balls, you just can't compete with absolute greatness. The texture of these meatballs is somehow both spongier and mushier and the sauce, while tasty, doesn't knock my socks off like the Frankies' tomato sauce. So the Frankies meatballs remain victorious!


This recipe never fails to please – minced beef and pork together with pepper and onion is a wonderful combination of flavours. The meatballs are very light and the sauce rich and creamy. A classic Hungarian accompaniment would be buttered noodles tossed with poppy seeds – use 3 oz tagliatelle per person, drained then tossed in ½ oz butter and 1 level teaspoon poppy seeds.

Serves 4 - 6

12 oz lean minced beef
12 oz minced pork
½ medium red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
2 level tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 oz fresh breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1 rounded tablespoon seasoned flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the sauce:
1 lb ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 14 oz canned Italian chopped tomatoes
1 rounded tablespoon hot Hungarian paprika, plus a little extra
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ medium red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
100 ml crème fraîche
Salt and freshly milled black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 275°F.

First, make the meatballs. Place the minced meats, chopped pepper, onion, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Mix well, then add the egg and a good seasoning of salt and freshly milled black pepper. Now combine everything as thoroughly as possible, using either your hands or a large fork. Then take pieces of the mixture, about a tablespoon at a time, squeeze and roll each one into a small round – you should get 24 altogether – then coat each one lightly with seasoned flour.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the casserole and, when it's smoking hot, brown the meatballs a few at a time. Then transfer them to a plate.

Next, make the sauce in the same pan. Heat the oil, add the onion and the red pepper together and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, cook for another minute and stir in the paprika and any remaining bits of seasoned flour. Stir to soak up the juices, then add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, then bring it all up to simmering point, stirring all the time.

Now add the meatballs to the sauce, bring back to simmering point, cover with a tight-fitting lid and transfer it to the middle shelf of the oven for 1½ hours. Just before serving, lightly stir in the crème fraîche to give a marbled effect.

Spoon the meatballs on to freshly cooked noodles and sprinkle a little extra paprika on as a garnish as they go to the table.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

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