Meatballs in Goulash Sauce

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 (75 g) green tagliatelle per person, drained then tossed in ½ oz (10 g) butter and 1 level teaspoon poppy seeds.

Serves 4-6

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection and has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Guide to Meat Cookery).

Meatballs in Goulash Sauce
 12 oz (350 g) lean minced beef
 12 oz (350 g) 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 (50 g) 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 (450 g) ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 x 14 oz (400 g) tin 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
 about half 200 ml tub crème fraîche
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C).
You will also need a large flameproof casserole with a 4 pint (2.25 litre) capacity and a well-fitting lid.


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.

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