“Rustic” in this recipe means that you’ll want to keep the tomatoes, celery and carrots as whole as possible, to retain their texture and visual aspect.
Equipment: Large sauté pan, mortar and pestle
For the Meatballs:
- 1 ½ lbs ground beef (preferably grass fed)
- 1 onion, skinned and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fennel seeds (ground fennel if you don’t have a mortar and pestle)
- 3+2 TB traditional fat of choice (ghee, lard, tallow, duck fat, etc.)
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- 2 eggs
- black pepper
For the Stew:
- 4 medium carrots, sliced into 2″ diagonal pieces
- 2 large celery stalks (preferably peeled), sliced into 2″ diagonal pieces
- 2 cans of WHOLE plum/Roma tomatoes, drained
- 1 onion, skinned and cut into 8 wedges
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed and coarsely chopped
- 1 TB Balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups beef or chicken stock
- ¼ tsp red chili flakes (optional)
- fresh basil, chopped for garnish
- Coarsely grind fennel seeds and add to all other ingredients (reserve 3 TB/45ml fat for frying), and mix well.
- Heat the 3 TB/45ml fat in the sauté pan and fry a small portion of the mixture to taste test for salt; add salt if necessary.
- Shape meatballs (about the size of a golfball), and fry until well browned and firm (5 min). Remember that the meatballs will be simmered in the stew later, so at this stage don’t overcook.
- Remove the meatballs and set aside.
- In the sauté pan briefly fry the onion and garlic.
- Add the stock, bring to a boil and add all other ingredients except tomatoes and Balsamic vinegar.
- Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and let simmer until the carrots and celery are tender.
- Add the meatballs, whole tomatoes and Balsamic vinegar and simmer uncovered for 15 min.
- Taste for salt.
- Serve in soup bowls, garnished with chopped basil.