Now who doesn’t LOVE a moist, melt in your mouth, tomato sauce covered, meatball? I have to put my hand up to eating far too many of these before dinner is actually ready, ‘just to taste it for seasoning’…Yes It is a lie, by seriously, I cannot just stop at one! The trusty meatball in Italian families is a right of passage, a recipe that is unique to each family. Whilst ingredients are often very similar, it is the method and combination of these two factors that could start a Romeo and Juliet style war between families, vying that ‘their meatball recipe is the best!’ This unassuming, simple, earthy, soul healing dish, manages to transpire cultures, and generations.
You can just hear the sounds coming from the dinner table, of families slurping up some saucy spaghetti and meatballs. To be honest, my dinner table goes unusually silent as the kids tuck into their ‘favorite’ of meals. And lets be honest, any meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner or any snack in between, is mostly chaotic, overcomplicated and loud with us! I love to look over and see my youngest son’s (he’s almost two) messy hands and face, smothered and dripping with the rich tomato sauce and holding a meatball in his little chubby fingers like his most prized possession. He often squishes it whole with his hand whilst giving me lingering cheeky stare and then shoves all the broken bits into his mouth as if it is his last supper. It is for these moments that I am reminded how much I just love to gather around meals with my family and friends. These memories, although so simple, will stick in my head every time I see a meatball. I thought I would include a picture of this little guy just because I can’t get enough of him.
I hope when you, your family and friends share this meal together, that there are many of you around the table with tomato sauce all over your faces too! Now that I’ve put you off eating with my little rugrats, lets get to the recipe shall we…… xxx
- 1 cup day old bread - crust removed, cut roughly into 1cm cubes
- 1 cup of milk - or enough to just cover the bread
- 1 kg of premium beef mince
- 1 handful of parsley chopped - feel free to experiment with a combination of Italian herbs here.
- 1 egg
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 tsp of salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large brown onion - chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- ½ cup of red wine
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 700ml passata tomato sauce - plain, no added herbs
- 1 tin of tomatoes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup of water + more later on if needed
- Put the bread in a bowl and soak in milk till well saturated.
- While the milk is soaking, grab a large bowl and combine the mince, egg, parsley (or herbs), parmesan cheese, salt & pepper.
- Squeeze the milk out of the bread and combine into the mince mixture until well combined.
- Roll the meatballs into palm sized balls, or which ever size you fancy really. Medium size is the traditional option but if you have some time, rolling them into small finger sized balls are a fun change for the kids especially. Place them on a plate to the side.
- Next, in a large frying pan heat the olive oil. Add the onion and fry until translucent, being careful not to burn it. Add a tablespoon of water every so often if the onion looks to be catching.
- Once the onions are translucent, add the garlic for 1 minute, being careful not to burn it.
- Add the meatballs to the pan and brown them on both sides. You can do this in batches, however remember to make sure your pan is deep enough to hold them all once browned.
- Add the red wine and let the alcohol evaporate,
- Add the bay leaf, passata, tinned tomatoes, sugar and cup of water. Bring the mixture to the boil, turn down the heat till it is gently bubbling and leave it for approximately 1.5-2 hours, lid on. If the mixture starts to thicken too much to your liking you can always add half a cup of water where you need it. This will loosen your sauce if you don't want it too thick.
- Check for salt & pepper and add to your taste.
Please enjoy these meatballs with some gorgeous, crusty Italian ciabatta bread, to mop up all the juicy sauce. Or equally as delicious, with your favourite shape of pasta. In my family, we love penne, purely because feeding small children spaghetti always ends in disaster, and also, the hollow tube shape where the sauce sits so snuggly, allows for a greater sauce ratio per mouthful. Most important of course!