For some reason last night, at about 8.30pm, I suddenly decided I was craving meatballs. Once this thought was in my head, it just wasn’t budging, so, in my pjs, I braved the rain, and walked to Co-op.
Firstly, I had thought I would buy ready-made meat balls, as I fancied something quick. However, once I got there and realised that 12 small meatballs cost around £3, and a 500g packet of mince cost under £2.50, I decided that I would make my own. Quickly scrolling through the BBC GoodFood recipe as I trawled the aisles, I picked up the remaining ingredients I knew I didn’t have at home.
I had also intended to use a shop-bought sauce I had waiting in my cupboard, but the sauce that went alongside the recipe online looked very simple too.
My ingredients were:
For the meatballs:
- 500g Beef mince
- 1 Small red onion
- 1 Garlic clove
- 1 Egg
- 1 tbsp Mixed herbs
- 1/2 Red chilli
- Olive Oil
For the sauce:
- 1 Small red onion
- 1 Garlic clove
- 1/2 tsp Sugar
- 400g Tin chopped tomatoes
I started first on the meatballs…
Once I had finely chopped the onion and red chilli, I added them into a hot pan, with a few tbsp of oil, and the crushed garlic. Once ensuring all the ingredients were covered in oil, I let the pan simmer for around 10/15 mins to soften the onion mixture.
In the mean time I prepared the ingredients for my sauce. Similarly, finely chopping an onion and crushing a clove of garlic. In another pan this was also heated with oil, to once again soften.
When the chilli, onion and garlic had been over a medium heat for about 15 minutes I removed the ingredients into a smaller bowl to cool. Whilst this was cooling, in a large mixing bowl I combined the beef mince, mixed herbs, salt and pepper. The egg acts as the binding agent in the meatballs, so I beat it in a mug for a couple of minutes before pouring over the mince.
Once the onions had cooled, I began stirring all the ingredients together in the large mixing bowl. This part could either be done by hand or by spoon, and I opted for a big wooden spoon to ensure all the mince was incorporated with the herbs, seasoning and egg. Once everything was well combined, I began shaping the mince into small balls in the palm of my hand. I managed to get them all quite even, and made a total of 14- although obviously they can be formed into any size you desire.
The recipe says at this point the meatballs can be refrigerated until needed, but as I was going to be cooking mine straight away, I just set them aside.
By this point, the foundations for your sauce should be nice and soft, which means it is time to add the tinned chopped tomatoes. After emptying the chopped tomatoes into the pan, I ensured all the juices were out of the can by filling 1/4 with tap water, and also poured this in. I turned the hob down to a medium heat and allowed the sauce to simmer for around 10 minutes. At this point I added 1 tbsp of mixed herbs, a generous helping of salt and pepper, and 1/2 tsp of sugar which balanced the acidity.
This pan remained on the hob until I was ready to serve, stirring occasionally.
Of course you can’t really have meatballs without pasta- unless you are at Ikea- so on another hob I began boiling pasta for two. Ellen has a large array of pasta in her cupboard, so we treated ourselves to pasta shells.
I found the meatballs took slightly longer to cook than the recipe had anticipated, so both my sauce and my pasta were done before. In future I will definitely begin to cook the meatballs before I put the pasta on, as they took around 20 minutes instead of 10.
I added another lashing of olive oil into a hot frying pan, and placed my meatballs equally around. The smell in the kitchen at this point was amazing! The herby tomato sauce and the spicy meatballs combined to create an Italian sensation!
As I cooked the meatballs, I turned them every 5 minutes, ensuring all sides had been well seared, and the insides were fully cooked. The juices from the mince combine with the oil which gave the meatballs an even deeper flavour.
Finally, at 10.30pm we began to plate our dinner- how European of us!
The sauce wasn’t like a conventional runny sauce, and it was just enough for the two of us, so the measurements would definitely need to be increased if you were planning on eating all the meatballs in one sitting. We managed to tuck into 6- 3 each- and the remaining 8 I have put into the fridge.
We topped the pasta shells and meatballs with grana padano cheese and within about 5 mins, all mine had been demolished.
This recipe was so easy, although there was a lot of washing up! The ingredients can be easily halved, or doubled for both the sauce and the meatballs, meaning this is great for a group meal, or even just for one person, and really, who doesn’t like meatballs???
To make 14 meatballs the cost works out at around £3.10. At only 10p more than the smaller, fewer and I’m guessing, less tasty shop alternatives, you can’t really argue the price! I am unsure about the costing for the sauce, but you can easily pick up tinned tomatoes in most supermarkets for £2 for 4, once again being low-cost.
I would really recommend this recipe, and It will leave your house smelling like a big Italian restaurant!
Heres the link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/meatballswithtomatos_74759