For the Love of Great Meatballs.
Summer, Autumn, Winter or Spring, meatballs are the gift that keep on giving.
I adore meatballs, in fact, I can’t recall ever meeting someone who hasn’t liked them. Apart from vegetarians and vegans of course. I love eating traditional Italian meatballs (Polpette) when I dine in a true Italian restaurant. In many respects, the Americans confused the world with their adaptation of “Spaghetti and Meatballs” – something you would rarely see in Italy.
“In Italy, Polpette is cooked in a tomato sauce and served as a main course, not with pasta. It is actually a beautiful way to enjoy meatballs and the good-times start when you source the all important ingredients.”
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, sourcing ingredients is my most favourite part of the entire cooking experience. I put it down to three things:
- I absolutely love discovering new ingredients, and products by different companies, but also locally made produce
- As I’m always up for a chat, sourcing ingredients is the perfect opportunity to meet new purveyors of fine foods and other foodies
- Visiting local artisan butchers and delicatessens is always an experience. One of my very first articles on my site was about my weekend adventures exploring ‘Little Italy’ in Sydney. You can read it here.
No matter which way you look at it, shopping for food is fun. If you like food shopping that is… You see for me, all other forms of shopping have no appeal whatsoever. Shopping for clothes and shoes is a very un pleasurable experience for me. The pushing, trying on of clothes, in and out of changing rooms… You’ll only every see me in a clothing store when I absolutely need something, the whole thing really bores me to tears.
Food shopping however is a totally different feeling. When I plan a dinner party, I start with designing the menu. This is quickly followed by a list of ingredients which determines where I will shop to source my food.
“I could spend hours shopping for food, and I deliberately allow hours. I have such a great respect for food, and if I don’t have the time to source quality ingredients, I would prefer not to cook at all.”
Getting back to the meatballs, I love the versatility of these delicate little morsels. You can create meatballs using so many variations and ingredients. Meatballs for me are devoid of rules which allows for creativity and fun, and without sounding like a bragger, I’ve never know anyone who hasn’t loved my meatballs.
The starting point for me is sourcing great quality ground mince. I usually ask the butcher to use a larger mincer blade to achieve a slightly coarse texture. I do this with my burger mince also – for two people, ask your butcher to coarsely around 500 grams of good quality rump steak. In a bowl, season well with salt and pepper and some chopped parsley and you’re good to go with two lean and very tasty burgers… Often a Saturday night treat in our house, I top these burgers with smoked bacon and coat them in a blanket of velvety blue cheese, and perhaps a side of crunchy sweet potato fries… Hungry yet?
Like the Italians, I like to serve my meatballs as a main course, and also without pasta. For this recipe, I served the meatballs with some beautifully ripe pumpkin wedges, and greens. This recipe generously serves four people and I hope you love it as much as I do.
What you’ll need:
500 grams of beef mince
3/4 a cup of almond meal
1 egg whisked with a tablespoon of milk
Finely chopped vegetables (I use a food processor)
2 medium sized carrots
1 medium sized zucchini
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper.
1.2kg of chopped ripe tomatoes (use fresh, not tinned)
I/2 cup of finely chopped leek or onion
1/2 cup of finely chopped celery
1/2 cup of finely chopped capsicum
Salt and pepper
1 cup of water
Optional: for some natural sweetness, add half a cup of sultanas. If you are wanting a more fragrant sauce, you can add a cinnamon stick and two bay leaves.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees
- Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a glass ball and mix well
- Roll the mixture into small round shapes and place on a plate
- Cover the meatballs with cling wrap and refrigerate for minimum 30 minutes
- For the tomato sauce, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for around 20-25 minutes until all the ingredients are combined
- In a non-stick pan, gently cook the meatballs for around 3 minutes on each side, placing them in a casserole dish
- Pour the tomato sauce over the meatballs and place in the oven on 170 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
You can serve meatballs so many ways, and if you are a pasta lover, you can spoon the meatballs over some freshly cooked pasta (if you must). For me, I love meatballs with a side of pumpkin, lightly roasted with pine nuts, and some of my favourite greens.
I would love to hear from you – please leave a comment below with any questions you may have and I’ll get back to you very soon.
As always, Bon Appétit, Mike X