It’s a classic, and one of my favourite meals of all time. I’ve tried several different recipes for meatballs and in the end I found no individual one quite gave me the flavour I wanted so I began to experiment a bit. I tried all kinds of different herbs, spices, and ingredients before settling on my tried and tested version below. It’s definitely one of my favourites so let me know if you try it out too!
My recipe is based around this one by John Torode but adapted a little to suit my tastes. That’s the great thing about meatballs, you can put pretty much anything you want in them depending on what you like. I always serve mine with home made pasta. I learnt to make this on a cooking course I went on a while back and you can read how to make your own here. For this recipe, rather than cutting it through the pasta machine, I rolled it out and cut it into thick strips to make papperdelle.
For the meatballs and sauce you will need:
- 500g beef mince
- 500g pork mince
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 5/6 slices of pancetta chopped into small pieces
- 4 slices of bread, slightly toasted then blitzed into breadcrumbs
- A good handful of parsley, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 red chillies, finely chopped
- 2 egg yolks
- Grated parmesan
- Salt & pepper
- Italian herb seasoning
- Red wine
- 2 x tinned plum tomatoes
- Olive oil
Here’s what to do:
1. Fry the onion and pancetta until the onion is transparent. Add the chilli, garlic and breadcrumbs, season with the herbs and salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 mins. Mix in the parsley then put the mixture in a bowl to cool slightly whilst you prepare the meatballs.
2. Put the beef, pork, parmesan, egg yolks and half of the breadcrumb mixture in a large bowl and using your hands give the mixture a good squeeze to mix it all together. You want to make sure all the flavours are mixed well through out so every little ball is packed full of flavour. Some recipes recommend putting the mix in a blender but I find this method much easier.
3. This mixture will make a lot of meatballs – about 30-36. I always double up when I make them so I can freeze a batch for a quick midweek meal. Roll the mixture between your hands into small balls no larger than the size of a golf ball.
4. In a large frying pan, brown the meatballs on all sides and then set aside. In the same pan, add the remaining breadcrumb mixture and a good splash of wine to deglaze the pan. You want to get off all the bits stuck to the pan from the meatballs to give the sauce lots of flavour.
5. Add the two tins of tomatoes and a tin full of cold water and bring to the boil. I then carefully use a potato masher to mash up the plum tomatoes to make sure they break down properly.
6. Season the sauce and add the meatballs. Leave to simmer for around 20 mins, stirring regularly.
7. Prepare your chosen pasta in the meantime and serve the meatballs with lashings of sauce, a sprinkle of parsley and parmesan according to your taste.
P.S. I was lucky enough to bump into the man himself a while back so here is my shameless celeb snap 😉