Recipe: Chef Brad Smoliak’s Ukrainian Meatballs

Ukrainian Meatballs
For the past three years I’ve had the pleasure of attending Indulgence, one of the hottest events on Edmonton’s food scene. The event brings local chefs together with local producers, who are then tasked with creating a dish paired with a wine from a Canadian winery.

This year, Chef Brad Smoliak of Kitchen by Brad was partnered with Irving Farm’s Fresh and Benjamin Bridge vineyards, located in the heart of the Gaspereau Valley on the Bay of Fundy.

Chef Smoliak humourously called his dish Bubbles and Balls: Irving’s farm fresh bacon and ground pork mixed with cabbage and rice, rolled into a ball and simmered in tomato sauce and paired with Benjamin Bridge Brut Methode Classique.

Since the dish is made with rice instead of breadcrumbs, this gluten-free girl was able to indulge in one, or two, servings of bubbles and balls.

You can pick up a hard copy of the recipe in the 2015 July-August issue of The Tomato – Edmonton’s Food & Drink Magazine, who first printed and shared the recipe. Huge thanks to Chef Brad Smoliak and Mary Bailey of The Tomato for re-sharing the recipe with Passion for Pork. 

Ukrainian Meatballs
Recipe by Chef Brad Smoliak of Kitchen by Brad
These were delectable with a beautifully light texture and rich flavour, highlighted by the refreshing Nova Scotia bubbly.

½ cup              ground bacon ends (4 oz.)
½ cup              finely chopped onions
1 cup               finely chopped cabbage
1 tbsp              paprika
1 tsp                crushed garlic
1 tsp                marjoram
1 tsp                kosher salt (may need to add more depending on saltiness of bacon)
½ tsp               coarse black pepper
1 cup               ground back bacon
1 cup               cooked short grain rice
1                     egg

Cook ground bacon over medium low heat just till the fat starts to render out. Add onions and cabbage and cook for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables start to soften. Add the remaining ingredients and cook over low heat until all the vegetables have cooked down and the mixture is a deep rich colour. Remove from heat, chill until cold.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, mix together the cooked bacon and cabbage mixture with the ground pork bacon, egg and rice, mix until well combined. Pan-fry a little patty to see if seasonings need to be adjusted. Adjust with salt and pepper if need be.

Tomato Sauce

1½ cup            chicken stock
2 cup               canned tomatoes (La Pavoncella – just saying)
1 tsp                kosher salt
½ tsp               black pepper
1 tsp                paprika
1 tsp                white sugar
½ tsp               marjoram

Place all ingredients in pot, and simmer until reduced by half, to smooth out the sauce use a stick blender.

Indulgence 2015