Pork Cheek Meatballs with Dried Currant Chutney
Lot 2, Omaha, NE
"This is a nice dish for a cocktail party with friends because it’s easy to prepare ahead of time. Pork cheeks are amazing to use, but feel free to utilize a mix of cuts to find your favorite blend." —Joel Mahr
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine (pinot noir is beautiful with pork)
1/2 cup sourdough bread crumbs
3/4 cup milk
2 pounds ground pork cheeks or pork shoulder
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon espelette pepper or crushed chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 egg yolks
Dried Currant Chutney:
1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) dried currants (Can’t find currants? Don’t sweat it! Cherries or cranberries work well, too.)
2 shallots, finely minced
One 2-inch piece ginger, finely minced
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar, agave nectar, or honey
1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
Pinch of salt
Chopped flat-leaf parsley
High-quality extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the meatballs: add 2 tablespoons butter to a sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the shallots and sweat until they are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the thyme and sage and cook until the herbs are fragrant, 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and reduce until all of the wine has just about cooked off, about 4 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
In a bowl, pour the milk over the sourdough breadcrumbs. Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes so the bread absorbs all of the milk. Strain out the milk using a fine mesh sieve, pressing the breadcrumbs to get out any excess milk. Add the breadcrumbs to a large bowl with the ground pork. Add the spices, egg yolks, and cooled shallot and herb mixture.
Now, the fun part! Combine the pork mixture by hand until all of ingredients are well incorporated, about 3 minutes. Portion the meat into to 2 1/2-ounce meatballs, placing them on to a sheet tray once shaped. Place the sheet tray in a refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
Once the oven is preheated, cook the meatballs for about 7 minutes. Rotate the tray, then cook for 4 to 5 minutes longer, until the tops of the meatballs are slightly browned. Remove the meatballs from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
Make the dried currant chutney: add all of the ingredients to a pot set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the mixture has a slight syrup-like consistency. If cooked too long, the chutney will become very tacky and stiff. If that happens, just add a splash of hot water and stir to loosen.
Plate up: place a small spoonful of the chutney onto a plate and pile the meatballs on top. Garnish with chopped chives and flat-leaf parsley to brighten up the dish, then top with a splash of your favorite olive oil and you’re all set to enjoy!