This is another food I make a couple of times a year in winter that sounds much fancier than it is. “Rissolé,” for those who have never had it, just means a not-quite-solid rolled around in a coating or sometimes wrapped in dough and fried. If you’ve ever had a chicken croquette or a crab cake you’ve had something in the”rissolé” family. “Rissolé,” I have since learned, is far more popular in Commonwealth countries than in the US. What are we making here? We’re basically making a version of Swedish meatballs, for those who have ever been to IKEA, which I think might be all of us.
The first time I had this Life’s Helpmeet and I were happily tooling around the backroads of Ontario. I was driving. Problem was, we were meant to be in Québec and headed east, not in Ontario and heading west. “Wait a minute, something doesn’t feel right. Did you see a sign that said, “Welcome to Ontario?” “Yeah, about 50 miles ago but I thought that was the city—“ “Ontario is not a city and that would have been eighty kilometers ago.” “Oh, it doesn’t matter, this is fun, isn’t it? I mean not really, there’s really nothing to look at. Are you hungry?”
“I am feeling a little hungry, and we can get directions. Here, this looks like a roadhouse.”
“It says [this wasn’t quite it] ‘Beaver Hunt Club.’ I don’t think it’s for us, Mattie.”
But we pulled over anyway, because they had a gas station, and in fact the building next to it was not a “gentlemen’s club” but a diner with a very limited menu, and among the items was a beef rissolé lunch special, so we had that.
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 lbs ground beef, as lean as you can get it. The less grease the better for this. Your beef should be straight from the fridge.
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, minced if you can do this, but chopped very small, you don’t want it to be chunky.
8 oz. panko breadcrumbs, flavored if you want
Approx. 4 tbsp. spicy ketchup
1 oz. (1 tbsp.) ground spice mix or seasoning mix
1 can or jar mushroom gravy, volume depends, as you’ll see
In a fairly large bowl, add the beef, crack in the eggs, stir a little bit but only one or two turns with a wooden spoon, then add the garlic, onion, breadcrumbs, ketchup, and seasoning mix. Mix this with your hands. Like with meat loaf, this is kind of the only way to do this. It should make a pretty solid mass. If it’s too dry and crumbly, add more ketchup, 1 tbsp. at a time. Form this into 8 balls.
Put the cooking oil in a heavy skillet and get it really hot. This might take a few minutes. You should only have a fairly shallow puddle; you’re not deep frying.
One by one, sprinkle the flour on the balls and with a slotted spoon with a heat-proof handle gently place them in the heated oil. There should be room for all of them. Cook them for about 3 minutes, until they’re browned, but not burned. Deftly turn each of them over and do the same for their opposite sides. Now reduce the heat to medium and cook until they’re done, maybe another five minutes total, turning once. The first time you do this, if you do this at all, take out one of the rissolé and cut it in half. Does the ground beef look like it’s done?
Hopefully all went well so move the rissolé to a plate with a paper towel so they can cool off (that oil is very hot) and degrease somewhat. Now, do something I almost never do:
This is a beef recipe that doesn’t create ingredients for a gravy. Open a jar of mushroom gravy (I usually make my own gravy), pour it in a small bowl and microwave (I almost never use the microwave) for about three minutes. It doesn’t really matter; the gravy should be more than warm but less than piping hot. If it seems a little thin add a little flour and stir well so it doesn’t clump.
Serve the rissolé with potatoes of some kind. I wouldn’t go for potatoes in a sauce, like potatoes au gratin or scalloped potatoes. An easy thing to do is pop a couple of potatoes in the oven while you’re making the rissolé and either serve them as you normally would or top with more of the mushroom gravy. Even easier is do what the Beaver Hunt Club did/does and heat up some frozen French fries and top with more of the mushroom gravy.