I love how universal meatballs are. The world over, almost every cuisine has realized the merits of grinding meat and mixing it with spices and herbs. This is a characteristic recipe from Nigel Slater: no one would recognize the preparation, but somehow it seems like it's always been there. It's a combination that plays a bit with authenticity, but doesn't seem like a major departure. The left-field ingredient here is lime leaves, an integral part of Thai cooking. They could be left out, as they're hard to find, but the unmistakable flavor adds something extra.
Slate calls these pork "burgers," but eats them without a bun (the man should be told that without a bun, it doesn't qualify). But when I hear about anything with chunks of bacon food-processed into a "coarse mush" and mixed into a patty, I'm on board. Big Asian flavors like chili, ginger, garlic, cilantro, and scallions round out the rest of the recipe. These pair well with a crisp salad and plain white rice.
- 4 scallions
- 1-3 fresh red chiles, depending on taste
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- 1/4 pound bacon
- 1 1/4 pound ground pork
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
Chop the scallions, chiles, garlic, cilantro, and ginger. Stack the lime leaves on top of each other and roll them up, then finely shred them cross-wise. Transfer everything to a food processor and process until well-mixed into a paste. Scrape out into a bowl and set aside.
Cut up the bacon into small pieces and process it into a coarse mush. Scrape out into the same bowl with the herb mixture and add the ground pork. Add a pinch of salt and fresh pepper and mix the ingredients together. If possible, refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.
Divide the pork into 12 or so balls of meat, then flatten into patties. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the patties when the oil is very hot and cook over high heat, turning once, until brown and cooked through. Serve with white rice and a crisp iceberg salad.