These pork meatballs are easy to make and incredibly flavorful, loaded with aromatics like lemongrass, ginger and garlic. They’re very versatile. Serve them as is for an appetizer or party fare, in a simple broth, or even, as we did, to make crispy baked egg rolls.
I knew that I could trust Nigel Slater for a great pork meatball recipe. Not one of his recipes has disappointed me.
I don’t know why I was craving meatballs, but they just sounded good. I wasn’t looking for meatballs in sauce, though I love saucy Italian Meatballs and Lamb Meatballs. I was in the mood for meaty little round flavor bombs, sans sauce. And that’s exactly what these are.
Are you familiar with Nigel Slater? He’s an English food writer, journalist and broadcaster (that’s what Wikipedia says, so it must be true). And I’ll agree with Jamie Oliver’s quote on the cover of Nigel’s book, Appetite. He is a genius.
Nigel has a way of speaking about food that makes you want to eat, it makes you want to cook, and it makes you believe that you can. I love his dry sense of humor and his lack of pretense. He has excellent cookbooks (The Kitchen Diaries is my favorite) and writes an Observer Magazine food column, but I also recommend his autobiography, Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger. It’s candid and beautifully written.
He words recipes in a way that encourages, that requires really, you to tweak ingredient amounts to suit your own tastes. For example he calls for ‘a fistful or so of bacon’ in this recipe. I like that.
It’s the spices: lemongrass, ginger, cilantro and garlic combined with jalapeño kick that make these pork meatballs spectacularly flavorful. That and adding a couple of slices of bacon to the ground pork. Why not, right?
Easy Spicy Pork Meatballs
- 2 thick stalks of lemongrass coarse outer leaves discarded and tender leaves coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 shallots peeled and chopped
- 2 jalapeños stems removed and chopped (remove the seeds for less spicy meatballs)
- 2 strips uncooked bacon chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Add first 9 ingredients to the bowl of a food processor (lemongrass through cilantro). Process mixture until very finely minced, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Add ground pork to lemon grass mixture and use your hands to just combine, taking care not to over-mix which would make the meatballs tough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or lid and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Shape the seasoned pork into balls that are close to equal in size. (I made them about 1/4 cup each)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs to skillet, flattening them slightly. Leave some space around each so that they'll brown properly. Brown the meatballs until golden brown on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes more to brown the other side and cooked through.