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devine Meatballs 2013/03/14

Posted by Daddy Dave in Cooking.
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Daddy Dave’s usual thing is to make  meatballs the lazy way Nigella Lawson does it — using Italian sausage meat, but as Italian sausage can be difficult to obtain (we get ours from Dobbie’s), he wanted to try to get as close to his childhood memories of his friends’ nonnas’ meatballs.

This is what he has wound up with. It is a fool-proof, big single pot recipe, a man’s dish. It is simple, yet lipsmackingly good. Enjoy.

Prep Time: 30 mins. (can be prepp’d in 15mins),
Cooking Time: 3 hours,
Serves: 10.

Equipment:

  • 1 cooking hob;
  • wooden/plastic stirring spoon;
  • tea spoon measure;
  • small liquid measuring jug;
  • cheese grater;
  • kitchen scissors;
  • big stockpot or soup pot no lid;
  • blender for breadcrumbs;
  • sharp knife for chopping onions and parsley;
  • chopping board;
  • possibly a tin opener for the tomatoes.

Shopping List:

  • 450 g minced beef;
  • 120 g breadcrumbs;
  • 60 ml cow’s milk [any kind];
  • 60 g parmesan cheese [grated];
  • 58 g (one medium chicken) egg;
  • 15 g fresh parsley;
  • 5 g (1 teaspoon) dried oregano;
  • 2.5 g (1/2 teaspoon) garlic powder;
  • 1.5 litres (three 500 ml cartons) Passata;
  • 800 g (two cans) tomatoes [chopped];
  • 100 g (one medium) onion;
  • 60 ml olive oil;
  • 60 g cheese [any kind grated];
  • 35 g white table sugar;
  • 5 g (two cloves) garlic;
  • 5 g (1 teaspoon) basil [dried];
  • 7.5 g  table salt;
  • 5 g (1 teaspoon) fresh ground pepper;

To Make devine meatballs:

Open the cans, snip the cartons, sharpen the knife, take the chopping board and dice the onion. Then wash and chop up the fresh parsley as finely as you want to get three teaspoon’s worth (ie a tablespoon’s worth), slice up the garlic cloves. Grate the cheeses.

Put away the knife, grater, scissors and chopping board.

This recipe has two elements – the meatballs and the sauce.  The meatballs are made first.

MEATBALLS

Take the dry bread slices and blitz in blender to get 120 g breadcrumbs, and pour into the big pot. Add 60ml of milk, the egg, the 5g (1 teaspoon) dried oregano, the 15 g of chopped parsley, the half teaspoon of garlic powder, all 60g grated parmesan, and season with half a teaspoon of ground pepper and half a teaspoon of salt. Stir well. Add all the mince, and mush altogether with clean hands until thoroughly mixed up – then pull off bits and roll into about 30 golf-ball sized meatballs, and place on grill pan.

SAUCE

With the pot now empty, toss in the diced onion and sliced garlic, add all 60 ml of olive oil and sauté. You might want to brown the meatballs under the grill to firm them up – this is optional.

Add everything else to the pot – all the passata, the tomatoes, the basil, the sugar, and the cheese. Add a teaspoon of salt for seasoning, add the meatballs, and simply simmer for 3 hrs.

Walk away; there’s no stirring. Be warned that little tastings will lead to addiction.

Serve with a little spaghetti, 3 meatballs per serving.

Footnotes

Three hours may seem long, but if you start at 5pm, it’s on the table by 8.30pm when you get back from the pub.

Whether the milk is skimmed of full fat doesn’t make much difference to the taste, so why not go for skimmed to improve the health stats. The cheese can be low fat cheese, the beef can be extra lean, and you can try reducing the sugar to taste. There is really not much salt in the dish due to the parmesan and herbs, I would say it has minimum salt for seasoning – but you can perhaps go for lo-salt or kosher salt or big sea salt flakes. Breadcrumbs can be bought, if your bread is not dry enough you can pop them in the oven for a while (they need to be really dry to blend).

Another idea might be to use garlic oil instead of actual garlic and olive oil in the sauce. Dried basil and oregano seem to be better than fresh, but the meatballs are better with fresh parsley. Unusually, this sauce has very little onion, no fennel or cloves, no mushroom, and no purée. It is therefore different from bolognese and other sugo types.  So I find that the following day, this one can be thicker and a little too tangy, so — even though it makes ten portions — it is best eaten right away, and not stored unless you don’t mind adding a little water, wine, vermouth, or some more chipped tomatoes from a can – and some more sugar as well.

Enjoy (I know you will); it is very worth it, and it is very easy — your home will smell delicious too!

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