This recipe is really easy and needs only to be accompanied with some freshly steamed veg or a salad. I used 450 grams of mince when I last made this. However, different supermarkets seem to sell pork mince in different size packs – some are 450 grams and others are 500 grams. You can use either without it making much (or any that I’ve noticed) difference to the final outcome. Weighing out 450 grams of mince from a 500 gram pack is far too much effort!
For the meatballs, you’ll need:
A 450/500 gram pack of pork mince
2 slices of bread
2 cloves of garlic
Seasoning (salt, pepper and herbs of your choice – I can’t remember exactly, but I used either sage or oregano)
1 egg (if needed – see below)
For the sauce, you’ll need:
2 400 gram tins of tomatoes
2-4 fresh tomatoes
Gravy powder or powdered vegetable stock
Herbs (use the same herbs as you used for the meatballs)
You’ll also need:
Pasta – I used vermicelli, but you choose whichever you like and cook however much you need for the number of people eating (if I ever write a cook book I might need to tighten up on the precision of my ingredient instructions!)
What to do:
1. Peel the onion and divide into quarters. Then remove the skin of the garlic. Place the onion and peeled garlic into a food processor and whizz into a pulp. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the onion and garlic into the tiniest possible pieces you can. When you’re done, put the onion and garlic in a large mixing bowl.
2. Turn the two slices of bread into two slices of crumbs (I realise that doesn’t make complete sense, but you get the idea). This is easiest in a food processor (no need to rinse it after chopping the onions and garlic – too much extra work). If you don’t have one, tear the slices of bread into small pieces and then crumb them by rubbing each piece between your fingers over a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs to the onion/garlic mixture.
3. Add the pork mince and seasoning to the bowl. Seasoning is a bit of a gamble – I suggest you go with a small pinch of salt and shake of pepper and a reasonably generous sprinkle of herbs (with more if you like things herby). Then roll up your sleeves and dig your hands in and mix it all together thoroughly. If you didn’t pulverise the onions and garlic (which makes them slightly liquidy and helps to bind it all), or the mixture is dry and not sticking together very well, add one egg, beaten, to the mixture. Please ignore the slightly alien looking hand in the picture below…
4. Once all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, spoon a teaspoon sized amount of meatball mixture into your hand and roll it into a little ball. Place the meatball on a baking tray (I didn’t use a non-stick pan and I didn’t grease it so my meatballs stuck a little – you might want to consider greasing your baking tray, especially if it is not non-stick). Repeat until all the mixture has been turned into little meatballs and then put in an oven on about gas mark 5 until cooked.
5. Whilst the meatballs cook, make the sauce. First, remove the skin from the fresh tomatoes. I find this easiest to do by blanching – score a line around the tomato from top to bottom and then back up to the top again. Then score another line around the tomato (just piercing the skin) at right angles to the first. Whilst you do that, put some boiling water in a pan over a low heat (just enough to keep it simmering) and then drop the tomatoes into the water for a minute or so. When you take them out the water, the skins should peel off really easily.
6. Roughly chop the peeled tomatoes and put in a pan with the tinned tomatoes and start heating. Add herbs and a small amount of gravy powder or powdered vegetable stock, to taste. I like my sauce to be really tomatoey, so added about one and a half teaspoons of gravy powder, just to give a slightly meaty undertone and help it thicken a little. Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until warm and reduced to a satisfactory consistency.
7. As the meatballs are coming to the end of cooking, cook your pasta. Then remove the meatballs from the oven and add to the sauce. If you put the sauce to one side whilst the meatballs and pasta finished cooking, you might need to reheat it slightly (I have a bit of an obsession with hot food). Then dish up the pasta with the meatballs and sauce. Or, if you want to do it the Italian way, toss the pasta in the sauce and then dish it up. Either way, it’ll end up on your plate and ultimately, in your tummy!