Okay, it’s not a very common name for a food I have to admit. Birds’ nests ? pink potato ? wha..what??
Easter is coming up and so I thought it would be fun to prepare an Easter treat this year. Birds’ nests with pink potato puree is traditional Belgian Easter treat resembles the British dish called Scotch eggs. I’ve had neither. So, I decided to give it a try.
According to the Dutch and Belgian Food and Cooking cookbook by Janne De Moor and Suzanne Vandyck, this tradition was originated in medieval times as a way of preserving the eggs that were denied to Catholics during the Lenten fast, for consumption at a later date. When the giant meat balls are cut in half, they look like birds’ nests, hence the name. Children love them, especially when they are served with tomato sauce and pink potato puree in Belgium.
We both really enjoy this dish and how cute can the presentation be. You know Easter always involves eggs and here you are slicing your meat open and you see the wonderful edible eggs there. They aren’t super tough to prepare too. I could pull it off, anyone can too.
Please weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup (225 g) ground beef
- 1 cup (225 g) ground pork
- 1 shallot - , finely chopped
- Pinch of grated nutmeg and dried thyme
- 1 egg - , beaten
- 1 egg white
- Bread crumbs for coating
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
For the sauce:
For the potato puree:
- 1 1/4 lbs (500 g) potatoes, peeled
- 2 cups whole/low-fat milk
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- Put the eggs in a pan with water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and cool in iced water
- As soon as the eggs are cold, remove them from the water, shell them and set them aside until required
- Put the minced beef and pork in a large bowl. Add the chopped shallot, nutmeg, thyme, parsley and egg. Mix thoroughly with clean hands until it holds together
- Divide the meat mixture into four equal portions and knead each one around a hard-boiled egg to make an even coating of about 3/4-inch (2 cm) thick
- Put the egg white and breadcrumbs in separate shallow dishes. Dip each covered egg in egg white, then roll in breadcrumbs until the outside is evenly and well coated
- Melt the butter in the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the covered eggs an brown on all side but turning them with tongs
- Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes on low heat
- Make the sauce by melting the butter in the oil. Add the chopped shallots or onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute gently for 3 minutes more
- Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the sherry or Madeira and the bay leaf. Season and add the paprika. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes
- Put the potatoes in a pan with lightly salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 25 minutes, until tender. Drain the potatoes, return them to the pan and place over the heat to dry. Mash with the milk, butter, tomato puree and nutmeg
- Pile the potato puree in the center of warm plates. Surround with most of the sauce. Cut the meatballs in half and arrange two on the sauce on each of the plates. Spoon the remaining sauce over. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately