Monday, 21 May 2012

Meatballs - revisited

Meatballs and I have history. Meatballs even lead to me actually getting paid to write something – how exciting was that? £25 for a ‘We Like to Eat’ column in the Guardian’s Family section last year. The handy link there (on 'history', if you didn't spot it!) takes you to a post I wrote in August last year, which is a longer version of that article. There was a time in my life when I had to make a particular lamb meatball recipe every day. Funnily enough, they have appeared less frequently on my menu subsequently. They are still a failsafe crowd pleaser, but the last couple of times I have made them, they haven’t been quite as good as I remembered.  However, a couple of weekends ago we were up at my mum’s and she served up meatballs made by mixing lamb mince and sausage meat. I don’t think I have ever come across a lamb/pork combination before, but it was really good. I think I prefer the lamb taste, but the addition of the sausage meat made them less dense.

Thus inspired, and using a Delia recipe (out of the Complete Cookery Course - meatballs braised with peppers and tomatoes - page 203 in my version!) as a rough guide for ingredient quantities, I have made meatballs this evening to feed the ravenous hoards (my turn to host the post- football/choir- pre-cubs play date).  In the interests of my own sanity, I chopped up all the veg, skinned the sausages and put veg, sausage meat and lamb mince in the fridge first thing this morning. I mixed, browned and cooked at lunchtime, and so I just need to cook spaghetti or other pasta and heat up the meatballs when it comes to tea time and the pack are baying at my heels demanding to be fed.
Sorry. Did I just liken my kids and their friends to a pack of animals there? Whoops.

Mediterranean style meatballs with hidden veg

Meatballs: 400g lamb mince, 6 pork sausages, 1 red onion, 1 red pepper, Handful of coriander leaves and stalks, 1 clove of garlic, 2 slices of bread, Salt and pepper, grated zest of a lemon

Sauce:  1 red onion & 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped, 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, 2 tsps Marigold stock powder.

Method: For the meatballs, finely chop the onion, pepper, coriander and garlic – I used a food processor to be honest. In a bowl, using a fork, (or again, using a food processor) mash up the bread into crumbs, then squeeze the meat out of the sausage skins, add the lamb mince and the chopped veg, add the egg, salt and pepper and lemon zest and mix together thoroughly. Form the mixture into meatballs.

Basically you can make them whatever size you want – depending on the size of the mouths you are feeding. I made just over 30 out of this amount which i am hoping confidently predict will feed 2 adults and 4 children.

Once you have formed the meatballs, you need to brown them in batches - heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a pan and put the meatballs in so the pan isn't overcrowded. Cook for a good couple of minutes on one side before turning to brown the rest (if you try to turn them too early, they will stick. i do it all the time) and then remove from the pan once brown and set aside.

It would be a good idea to drain them on kitchen paper if you have it to hand (I didn’t today), while you make the sauce.

For the Sauce: heat a tablespoon of oil in a large casserole and add the onion and garlic. Fry for a few minutes, then add in the cans of tomatoes. Put the stock powder into one of the cans, and fill with boiling/hot water. Tip the water into the second can (to get all the leftover tomato stuff out) and then tip into the casserole. Add some salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Bubble for 10 mins or so, then add in the browned meatballs. Turn the heat down to a simmer, put the lid on and cook gently for 25-30 mins.

Serve with pasta - I usually cook about 50 g per child and 100g per adult - anything left over goes into Pink's lunch box the following day - and today we're having green beans.


  1. Oh, the marvel of Delia. I'm going to have an occupation for tomorrow morning ready prepared now- flicking through Complete Cookery Course for a Wednesday cake or biscuit recipe!

    1. It's funny isn't it, if I was asked for my opinion about her, I'd be generally disparaging, but when it comes down to it, her stuff always works (although I can't do her pastry - but I think that's on principle because hse's so patronising about it.)

  2. Ohhhh - I can almost smell them!!! delicious ingredients
    Mary x


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