Boules de Picolat
Region: France, Roussillon
Meatballs, pâtés, sausages, and cured hams are all popular in the Roussillon, the province of France which is the French part of Catalonia, and made by specially trained people. The butifareres are women of “portly and funereal aspect” who hire themselves out to make sausages, blood puddings, and pâtés. In the Vallée de Carol they make a pâté of izard. This tradition is quite old, as the hams of the Cerdagne were mentioned by Strabo in the 1st century B.C. and praised by Martial. I learned this recipe from Chef Claude Patry, formerly chef de cuisine of Le Chapon Fin-Park Hotel in Perpignan. It goes very nicely with white haricot beans or French fries or proceeded by tarte au Roquefort (in A Mediterranean Feast, p. 182), a dish of the Rouergue region of the Haut Languedoc. Boules is French, from the Catalan word for meatball, boles.
For convenience, try asking the butcher to grind the beef and sausage meat together, although he might not want to mix meats in his machine. Keep your hands wet with cold water when forming the meatballs so they do not stick.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Preparation Time: 50 minutes
1 pound ground beef
1 pound sausage meat (see Note)
4 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2 ˝ tablespoons very finely chopped parsley leaves
1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh tarragon or basil leaves
Cinnamon to taste
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Flour for dredging
˝ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh or canned tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed green Spanish olives
Ľ cup chopped raw or cooked ham
1 cup veal (see the variation in the beef broth recipe) or chicken broth
1. In a large bowl, knead together the beef, sausage meat, garlic, parsley, tarragon or basil, cinnamon, egg, salt, and pepper. Form the mixture into meatballs the size of a small egg, wetting your hands so they don’t stick, and set aside.
2. Dredge the meatballs evenly in the flour, tapping off any excess. In a large nonreactive skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until the oil is almost smoking, and then brown the meatballs until golden, about 5 minutes, turning frequently. Remove the meatballs from the oil with tongs and set aside. Discard all but 3 to 4 tablespoons of the oil and rendered fat.
3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the tomatoes, shallot, and cayenne, and cook until the tomatoes have reduced to a sauce, about 15 minutes. Return the meatballs to the skillet with the olives and ham, then pour in the broth, and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the meatballs and set aside, keeping them warm. Reduce the sauce by half over medium heat, then cover the meatballs with the sauce and serve.
can’t go too wrong with the kind of sausage you use here, so try homemade
Italian sausage, salsiccia fresca, Toulouse
sausage or store-bought mild Italian sausage, fresh Spanish or Portuguese-style
chorizo, fresh Polish kielbasa, or chicken or turkey sausage. They all work.