No, I haven’t converted. I’m at home for Easter, meaning I’m living with the only remaining meat-eater in my family of five. I’m not that fussed about cooking meat meals, I’ll cook anything. There is a ridiculous amount of mince in my house, so instead of cooking bolognese or chilli con carne, I made these, cos I know they’re a treat for my dad. They are not THAT much work, but I’m saying that in retrospect cos this isn’t the first time I’ve made them. But give it a go, they taste good (said from memory of my meat-eating days). As a cheat, you can just make your meatballs and put them in a jar of pasta sauce, but I made my own. This is thrifty, seeing as most meat-eaters tend to have mince as a staple (use pork mince if you like), eggs, bread, pasta, chopped tomatoes etc. The one thing which might be an investment is parmesan, but you can just add finely grated cheddar instead. Anyway, here you go!
– 2 x can of chopped tomatoes (400g)
-2 cloves of garlic
-1 tsp of sugar
-1 stick of celery (optional)
-500g beef mince
-2 tbsp of grated parmesan
-3 tbsp breadcrumbs (I used semolina)
-mixed herbs, OR just parsley
-1 clove of garlic
-1 tsp of English mustard (optional)
-salt and pepper
AND A GOOD RADIO STATION, PREFERABLY CHOICE FM
-Chop up onions, garlic and celery. Fry these up in a big pan until soft.
-Add chopped tomatoes, then fill up each of these cans with water half way and pour into the pan, this waters down the mixture so it’s not too rich and gets the remainder of the chopped tomatoes into the sauce. Add sugar and herbs. Leave on a low heat to simmer.
-Okay, get all your childish laughter out the way now(there are references to balls)…
-Now the meatballs. Add everything (just 1 egg at first) into a bowl and stir really, really well. Make it all mushy. If you find it’s not combining well, add another egg. You need the mixture to be moist or it will crumble when you fry them. MIX WELL to make sure the egg has been spread throughout the whole mixture.
-Make your balls. Get a teaspoon and take a heaped pile of the mixture, then roll with your hands until it’s a ball. The mixture could make up to 20 balls, perhaps more ‘cos I tend to lose count. I had loads of balls left over, I froze these balls so one can fry them at a later date.
-Now fry them in about a tablespoon of oil in the biggest frying pan you have. People forget that beef mince has a lot of fat in it, so you don’t need tonnes of oil because the beef can fry in its own juices. (TIP When I make bolognese I never use oil to fry the mince).
-The frying will take a bit of time, and should be done in batches. Remember to brown the entirety of the meatball. It can get a bit messy. To check your ball is done, it should be brown on the outside and when you touch it, it should be really firm. Once a ball is done, add it to your tomato sauce and add another meatball to the frying pan.
-You don’t want the sauce to be jam packed full of meatballs, so, like I said, freeze some of the meatballs to use at a later time.
-Let it simmer for a bit so the juices from the meat can go into the tomato sauce. Serve with bread, spaghetti or rice.