It’s always inspiring to take photos early in the morning. Not dawn early when the light that filters through the dining room windows are still too dull and grayish. But between eight o’clock and ten o’clock, the hues are just perfect. Soft and dreamy. It was fortunate that this baked casserole came out of the oven at just the right time.
A very simple dish, this one. Rustic, even, because there are few things more provincial than potatoes and meatballs. But baked with cream and cheese, and just a hint of cayenne, the humble potato and meatballs combo becomes a wonder to behold. Luscious and indulgent. The kind of dish that makes you feel it’s going to be a great day.
- 4 medium-sized potatoes diced
- 250 grams ground pork
- 1/4 cup chopped onion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon tarragon chopped
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs (I used panko)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup onion roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup cream
- 3/4 cup cheese (mature cheddar is recommended), shredded
- parsley chopped
- cayenne powder
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Place the diced potatoes in a pot, cover with water, sprinkle with salt and boil for 10 minutes or until partially cooked, still firm and able to retain shape. Drain.
While the potatoes cook, make the meatballs.
Place the ground pork, about half a teaspoonful of salt and a quarter teaspoonful of pepper in a mixing bowl. Add the finely chopped onion, minced garlic, tarragon and bread crumbs. Mix well. Form into balls about an inch and a half in diameter.
Heat the butter in a frying pan. Brown the meatballs in the butter, rolling them around for even browning. Scoop out and transfer to a plate.
Reheat the remaining butter (and melted pork fat) in the pan. Add the roughly chopped onion and cook over medium heat just until translucent. Add the potatoes and meatballs. Toss to coat the potatoes and meatballs with oil.
Divide the potato and meatball mixture among two to three ovenproof bowls. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Pour the cream and about half of the shredded cheese into the now empty pan. Heat gently, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Add some parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the cream and cheese sauce over the meatballs and potatoes. Top with the remaining grated cheese. Sprinkle cayenne powder on top.
Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.
Sprinkle the cheesy meatballs and potato casserole with more parsley before serving.
For a meatless version, just omit the meatballs. But use more butter.