Pretty aggressive headline, don’t you think? There are a couple of reasons for this. Reason number one is because that’s what the people around the table told me. Reason number two is that I want some reaction. I am fed up reading recipes for meatballs (and all sorts of other stuff) that just can’t be any good. In my research for this post, I came across one recipe that recommended boiling the meatballs in the sauce for three hours. Fine if you want to fire them out of a canon to sink a ship but not much use if you want to eat them. Get real.
There is something wonderfully cathartic about writing. Once one get’s it down, there’s a release of the pent-up pressure and emotion that causes one to want to write in the first place. However, I’m not letting you meatball morons off the meat hook that easily. Now, here’s the ingredients picture:
A good meatball needs a good tomato sauce. For a great one, we need the following ingredients:
- A few fresh tomatoes
- Some sun-dried tomatoes
- Some tomato purée
- 2 tins of tomatoes
- 250 ml of good Italian wine (I used a Ripasso).
- 3 cloves fo garlic
- 1 onion
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 teaspoon of chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
- Salt and black pepper
- Olive oil
A good tomato sauce needs a good meatball. For a great one, we need the following ingredients:
- .5 kilo of each round beef mince and pork mince.
- 2 handfuls of breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 2 onions
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and black pepper
To get the (meat) ball rolling, I chop the three onions and sautée them in the pan until soft and translucent.
Two thirds of the onions go into the mixer along with all the other meatball ingredients.
Next I make the balls, avoiding the obvious joke. Another source of great debate is the right size for a meatball. I go for “just bigger than golf ball” size. On reflection, if you were to cook them for three hours, you could probably play a round or two with them.
Once done, they can go in the fridge while we turn our attention to the sauce. First thing to do is to chop the thyme.
Then add the remaining onions to a large sautée pan. Next, add the remaining sauce ingredients.
Three shots of the sauce construction are worth including.
The wine adds a lot to the sauce. Don’t skimp on it.
Add a quarter litre of water to the sauce and let it simmer for half an hour. Use that time to fry off the meatballs.
Making the pasta for six people is pretty straightforward. The ingredients are 300 grammes of flour and three eggs. Fresh pasta makes a huge difference to the dish. I am making fettuccine. First add the eggs to the mixer. Beat them a bit.
Change to a dough hook and beat for ten minutes or so.
An unusual thing about this method for making excellent (Italian) pasta is that it’s a Dutch man who devised it and told me how to do it. Check out Stefan’s blog here.
Things got into a bit of a panic at this stage. Making pasta, meatballs and sauce for six really does not allow much opportunity to photograph the pasta rolling. I have done it in other posts and you can search the blog for ‘pasta’ to find them. Suffice to say that I needed plenty of help rolling and hanging the pasta on the backs of chairs and clothes dryers. Time to put the meatballs in the sauce.
They need to stay simmering there for just fifteen minutes.
When everything is cooked through, I assemble the dish and serve to the hungry diners.
I do accept that in every household up and down the length of Italy, there will be families huffing and puffing about why their recipe is better. Some may well be. They have the advantage of good fresh tomatoes. If you think you have a better recipe, let me know. I would love to hear how they can be improved. However, don’t bother if your recipe involves hours of boiling the meat. It makes no sense. No sense at all.