As per my blog post yesterday, I thought I would return and share my foray into meatballs yesterday. This is not a new recipe for me, but it’s versatile, and I always add a bit, subtract a bit, try a new herb here, add a bit more of another there. Meatballs are a basic recipe, a base you may say, which can adapt to mood.
So what better day to warm my cockles on a wet miserable Sunday, the one day where you are forced inside and your day ceases around 4pm due to the city shutting down, than to indulge in a big bowl of pasta and meatballs.
Meatballs in a Marinara Sauce- Inspired by Ina, adapted by Adam
This recipe is one that would easily feed 4 people. It feeds Pete and I, who are two greedy boys, over two days.
500g beef or lamb mince
250-300g pork mince or veal mince
2 or 3 slices of bread, minced to breadcrumbs
2-3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary
2-3 spring onions
175 ml warm water
1 White onion
1 x 800g can chopped tomatoes
1 x glass (about 250ml) red wine
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
2 anchovy fillets
To begin, get out your food processor out. Mince the bread into breadcrumbs. I recommend it this way as the crumbs are dry. Put these in a bowl to one side.
(I have a freezer full from the bread I bake when it starts to go stale- waste not want not!)
I then add the spring onions (or scallions, Ina fans) into the processor. I use the greens and the white parts. At this point I also add my parmesan. Why dirty a grater? You could also add the herbs, but I like to practice my cheffy chop. I have also started buying frozen chopped parsley which saves a job, it’s affordable and cleaner than chopping flat leaf parsley on a board!
Add the mince in a mixing bowl, with the bread crumbs, onion mixture, herbs and seasoning. Begin mixing with your fingers, using the pads of your thumbs and forefingers to lightly incorporate the ingredients together. Beat the egg and add it to the mixture, followed by the warm water. Incorporate the mixture together, so you can easily see all the ingredients through the meat mixture. The warm water is quickly absorbed and makes the mixture damp, which is the reward upon eating,
You can do this in advance. You can easily see that this is open to all kinds of interpretation. Worcestershire sauce? Go on then. Thyme? Why not. Now when it comes to the meatball, there are two schools of thought. Nigella says that she thinks it should be no bigger than a tea spoon. Me? Disagree. I think it should be big, meaty and need breaking into with your fork. Ball them up to size in cold, lightly damp hands.
In about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, brown the meatballs on each side, turning after a few minutes. Brown the meatballs on all sides, and remove to some kitchen roll.
In the pan, add a chopped white onion, brown the onions in the pan. When brown, add 2 minced cloves of garlic. Cook lightly, before adding a generous glass of red wine. Deglaze the pan, and reduce slightly, the wine fumes will dissipate. To the pan, add one large, 800g can of chopped tomatoes, and a teaspoon of tomato puree. Add to the mix a tablespoon of chopped parsley. Parsley is a very fresh flavour, it’s not too herby when in the sauce, so doesn’t detract. Add a heaped teaspoon of sea salt, and roughly half that amount of black pepper.
Now here is where I grow controversial. I add a couple of anchovy fillets. I love the richness they add. I recommend this, to any sceptics out there, it’s inexpensive but the rewards are ten fold.
To this mix, immediately add the meatballs. These then need about 20 mins to cook, whilst the sauce reduces, and the meatballs cook through.
I served with cavatappi pasta and some shavings of Parmesan. The warm water is the key. the meatballs retain a great shape, but when you cut them open are moist and delicious. This is a basic sounding recipe, but sometimes the more simple a recipe the better. This is a recipe that relies on a lot of store cupboard basics, but is so delicious. Happy eating everyone.
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