Kids are funny lil’ ole things aren’t they? (Though, if you have them, ‘funny’ may not be the adjective that springs immediately to mind.) One day they like something, the next they turn their noses up. Incredibly honed instincts enable them to tell on sight whether they like something or not, no morsel need pass the lips. Combine a set of ingredients in one way and it’s a big thumbs up, combine the same ingredients and present it in a different format and, well, good luck.
Case in point: meatloaf, also represented as meatballs, a.r.a. beef burgers. While to the naked eye these dishes would appear to consist of the identical same ingredients, presented in very similar ways, the sophisticated child will deliver a very different verdict on each.
So while meatloaf typically gets a very lukewarm response, and meatballs are sidelined in favour of the pasta they’re served with, for some reason we’ve recently been having a lot of success with beefburgers, served bun-less (sometimes we even call them ‘steak haché’ – get us!) and served (are you paying attention?) “with that yummy sauce you make, mummy.”
I’m sorry, did you miss that? She said “that yummy sauce.”
And it turns out “that yummy sauce” (stop me when I start overusing that phrase) can be pressed into service with other dishes too.
Beautiful Girl and I first made it to accompany the lamb kebab recipe from The Children’s Cookbook by Nicola Graimes, and I have made it several times since, to accompany burgers made from lamb, pork, beef or turkey (sometimes softened by the addition of egg and breadcrumbs, sometimes not, sometimes lightly spiced with cumin or other herbs/spices). It’s also a welcome accompaniment to the chicken thighs I find myself roasting at least once a week.
To make it, heat a glug of olive oil in a small pan, add a crushed clove garlic and – just before the garlic starts to go dark brown – a carton of passata (or sieved tomatoes, or creamed tomatoes. Call them what you will; they’re basically smoothed tomatoes. Some brands have salt added, though, so read the ingredients if that sort of thing bothers you). I like to add a little black pepper and some dried oregano, turn down the heat and just simmer it for a few minutes, dodging the blurps of molten tomato as I cook the rest of the meal.
Look, I didn’t say it was complicated. It just feels like a breakthrough, that’s all. It almost feels (to me) like it’s providing a transition from the rigid world of food separatism to proper ‘mixed-up’ food.
Or am I deluding myself? Is it really just ketchup by another name?
Family friendliness rating: Several thumbs up.
Cleanup rating: Beware the volcano-like eruptions, which can leave your stove looking like a particularly nasty episode of Criminal Minds.
Can I freeze it? No need; those little cartons of passata (or whatever you want to call them) keep forever, and the sauce comes together in moments.