Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cajun Beef and Pork Boulettes with Brown Gravy

Cajun Beef Boulettes, a well seasoned beef and pork meatball, simmered in a roux based gravy, usually include a little surprise of garlic, button mushroom or even an olive tucked up inside.

Mary's Cajun Beef and Pork Boulettes with Brown Gravy

Boulettes is French for pellet or ball, and can be made with just about any type of ground meat or seafood. They are sometimes formed into patties instead of balls. Cajun Beef Boulettes include a little surprise of garlic, button mushroom or even an olive tucked up inside. Many Cajun cooks brown their boulettes in a pan first, then deglaze the pan with wine or stock and create a sauce, adding chunky peppers and onion to the stew.

Others flour and fry their boulettes. I prefer to finely chop up the veggies by hand, because I tend to turn them into mush with the food processor, and then add them in the meat mixture. I also prefer to stew the boulettes slow and long in a roux (what else?!) instead of precooking them. I think both of these produce a very tender and delicious meatball.

These do take some effort, so it's not a dish for the weekday if you're away from home at the office all day, but let me tell you, these are some kind of good and you won't be sorry for the effort! Since this recipe calls for a roux, follow the link to see how to make an oven roux.

You can do this ahead and have it on hand, or just do it right before you make up the boulettes. And, of course, you can just do a roux on the stovetop too, but for a deep, dark roux like this, you just cannot beat the oven method. You'll want to make at least a cup of roux, and we'll start here with the roux already made.

Here's how to make some bullets!

Add 1-1/2 quarts of water to a stockpot and warm it slightly, then slowly whisking in the room temperature roux.* Bring it to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes; reduce heat to medium and let it simmer while you form the boulettes.

Finely chop up the onion, celery, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and parsley. Slice the green onion super thin. Transfer it all into a large mixing bowl.

Stir it all together. Doesn't that look so fresh and good enough to just eat like that?

Add a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground pork to the veggie mixture.

Peel some garlic and set it aside either whole, or if you prefer, sliced. You'll be stuffing those into your boulettes here in a bit, so its a personal preference. Gather the seasonings - basil, one egg, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs.

Add the seasonings to the meat and veggies and mix well together. Add in just a splash of heavy cream.

Flatten the meat into the bowl.

I do this so that I can score the meat into quarters. I just find that this makes it easier to get more even balls since you'll form 3 boulettes from each quarter, for a total of 12. It's a lot easier than trying to pull out the right amount from a big blob of meat! To score the meat, I just used the same bench scraper that I use to pick up and transfer the cut up vegetables with.

Form the mixture into 12 large boulettes and set them aside.

Insert either a whole small garlic clove or sliced garlic cloves into each boulette. Push it in, pinch the hole together and round out the ball again.

Carefully drop the boulettes into the roux and once it begins to bubble up again, reduce heat to a medium low to low simmer, occasionally lightly shaking and swirling the pan in order to toss and turn the boulettes. You can also use a spoon to turn them, but I find that just the gentle shimmy once in awhile seems to do the trick!

Simmer uncovered for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until cooked through.

Sprinkle the pot with some dried crushed red pepper flakes just before you serve the boulettes. Serve with some of the brown sauce over hot, cooked rice.

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