Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Hands up who likes meatballs?  Hands up who never makes them because they’re too labour intensive or they’re still nursing the scars from frying off multiple batches in spattering hot oil?  Vegetarians stop looking smug.  Obviously, I'm not talking to you.  Maybe I’m just talking to me and you all love long prep times and third degree burns but I doubt it.  This game-changing recipe came to me via my friend Elizabeth (check out her wonderful blog The Back Yard Lemon Tree) who’d spied it on The Wednesday Chef.  Elizabeth (a vegetarian, incidentally) has a nine year old son, is routinely required to feed gangs of little boys after school on short notice and extolled the virtues of this super easy standby.  There’s no getting away from the fact you have to roll each meatball by hand, but here’s the revolutionary part – instead of frying each individually, they cook in one big batch in the sauce you serve them with.   

Bypassing the frying stage altogether means not just no more scars, but less fat too, and a whole lot less washing up.  What's more, cooking them this way allows the meat to take on more of the flavour of the garlicky tomato, which is no bad thing either.  If anyone still has their hands in the air, get them downYou need to make these.  Now.

Adapted only slightly from The Wednesday Chef

You can serve these any number of ways – on their own, on a bed of spaghetti, or polenta, or couscous, or rice, or even wedged into a toasted roll with melted cheese.

1/2 lb (225g) ground (minced) beef
1/2 lb (225g) of ground (minced) pork
2 eggs
3 slices white bread, crusts removed
enough milk to soak the bread
big handful of parsley
nutmeg for grating (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
28 oz (800g) can pureed or chopped tomatoes
one clove garlic, crushed
pinch of sugar

Place the meat and eggs in a largish bowl. Tear the bread into little pieces, then soak them in the milk and squeeze them out, adding them to the bowl.  Chop the parsley and add that too. Grate in a bit of nutmeg to taste, then season the mixture with salt and pepper.

With your hands, mix all of this together until it's a smooth, uniform mass. Cover the bowl and stick it in the fridge for a few hours. When you're ready to cook, form the meatballs. It’s up to you what size you make them but I found a two-bite size works pretty well. Put them on a plate.

In a large pot, fry the garlic in olive oil for about a minute (til it has a little colour), then pour in the tomatoes and their juices.  If you’re working with whole tomatoes and not pureed or chopped, break them up with a wooden spoon (or with a knife after you open the can but haven’t emptied it yet).  Add salt to taste and a pinch of sugar (to counter the acidity of the tomatoes).  Cook this over medium-low heat for about 25 minutes.  Then gently plop the meatballs into the pot, submerging them as much as possible.

Put the lid on and let the sauce and meatballs simmer slowly away.  Resist the urge to stir - if you’re concerned, shake the pot a little. After 25 minutes, dinner is done. 

1 comment:

  1. This meatballs are so easy, I can't completely verify the taste as I just make them for other folk but everyone raves about their lightness. You can easily double the recipe and feed a crowd and I've made them using minced lamb for some non beef eating hindu friends.