Versatile Meatballs

I love meatballs. They’re something everyone in my family will actually eat, they’re economical, they’re as simple or as fancy as you want them to be and they’re good to eat any time, any season. As long as you have some mince meat and an assortment of vegetables, you will have basic meatballs. Add a few other ingredients and the humble ball of meat becomes a tasty dish worthy of inviting friends around for.

I won’t bore you with a detailed recipe for meatballs. I’m sure most people will have made their own meatballs at some stage and it’s by no means a feat of Blumenthal proportions. However, I thought I’d outline a typical style of meatballs that I do up with whatever I had lying around in the pantry and fridge.

I have a preference for pork mince although I will use lamb every now and then. I don’t generally use beef mince as it’s often too lean and the meatballs end up being a bit dry and tough. For a healthier alternative, you can try a mix of lean beef mince and pork. I like my meatballs succulent and moist.

For 400 to 500 grams of mince, I add a small onion, one carrot and some zucchini (good way to get the veges into the kids) finely diced or processed briefly. I try not to process the veges too much as too much moisture makes the mince mix hard to manage. You can add other types of veges too of course. I sneaked chopped up mushroom into the meatballs once and my son was none the wiser. At any rate, once the meatballs are cooked, you can’t really pick out the veges.

Finally I added some seasoning (including some paprika), breadcrumbs and one egg and mixed the lot by hand. The resulting mince mix should be easy enough to handle and form into balls. If it’s too wet, you can add more breadcrumbs.

As I had some leftover prosciutto in the fridge, I chopped it up and sauteed it in olive oil with some fresh garlic on low heat. I added a couple of cloves of black garlic which needed to be used up. I increased the pan’s heat and added the meatballs. I browned once side, and then flipped them over to the other side. Once mostly sealed, I shook the pan a few times to get the heat through the meatballs.

I added a tin of diced tomatoes and some chopped mushrooms into the pan. To season, I added a dash of balsamic and a pinch of sugar. I let the meatballs simmer in the tomato for 15 minutes until the sauce reduced by half. Another bit of salt and it was ready to serve with some fresh spaghetti.

I should add that I only cooked up half the meatballs yielded. I have the other half sitting in my freezer for another day, and another sauce.

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