Italian meatballs are the ultimate comfort food, taking you right back to a special time in your childhood. This recipe was taught to me by my mum and it has been passed down to her from my Nonna so when I make it I feel right at home, no matter where I am in the world. Pork and veal mince along with a couple of my secret weapons, (dried herbs and moist bread!) really bring out the best in flavours and texture with this family favourite.
INGREDIENTS – ITALIAN MEATBALLS:
500g (1.1 pound – 17oz)mixed pork & veal mince
3 garlic cloves
½ carrot – peeled and sliced in 2
½ celery stick
Extra virgin olive oil
3 eggs (preferably free range)
Fresh parsley (chopped)
Dried herbs (sage, marjoram, oregano)
2 x slices of bread (with crust cut off, sliced into medium size pieces)
4 x tablespoons Pecorino cheese
4 x tablespoons Parmigianno cheese
Bowl of water
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
INGREDIENTS – SAUCE:
1/3 celery stalk
1 x garlic clove
Passata (Freshly made Tomato Puree)
Medium size mixing bowl
Small bowl (for water)
Hand held blender
Flat tray (to rest the meatballs on)
2 x large, deep non-stick pans
Sharp, thick knife
- Add a garlic clove, ½ carrot and ½ celery to the hand blender. Pour in a tablespoon of EVOO and blend.
- Put a medium size frypan on the stove at a low-medium heat and add a generous drizzle of EVOO.
- Once the oil starts to warm, add the vegetable puree, tomato passata (or freshly crashed tomatoes) and a sprinkle of salt. Then mix really well making sure all of the ingredients come together really well.
- Leave the sauce to cook for 1-3hr (depending on how much time you have!). If you slow cook it, it ALWAYS tastes best, adding some basil toward the end so it enhances the flavour but doesn’t overcook!
- To make these Italian meatballs, put the garlic, carrot and celery into a small hand blender. Mix them together with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and blend until smooth.
- Place the mince into a mixing bowl and add the vegetable mixture.
- Add 3 fresh eggs, 3-4 tablespoons of fresh breadcrumbs and a generous amount of freshly chopped parsley.
- Next, sprinkle dried herbs over the top, to really enhance the flavour of the Italian meatballs.
VINCENZO’S TIP: If you only have oregano, this will work but its even more delicious with a few varieties!
- Now dip the slices of bread into the bowl filled with water, a couple at a time, then quickly removing them and squeezing all the water out using your hands.
- Break up the wet bread into pieces, using both of your hands, adding them to your main mixture as you go.
- Next up it’s time for the cheese! Add both the pecorino and parmigianno to the bowl and be sure to take the flavour of these Italian meatballs to a whole new level!
- Add in a tablespoon (or two!) of EVOO along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- It’s now time to mix it all together! Using your hands (or a fork), mix the ingredients together really well, making sure the eggs are mixed well and everything is combined.
- Do this, until you are able to form a large ball (for this part hands-only are best!) and most of the mixture has been removed from the sides of the bowl.
- Now to form the Italian meatballs! Make sure you have cleared the space you are working on and prepare a tray with some baking paper on top.
- Wash your hands thoroughly, keeping them a little bit wet to make it easier to work the mixture.
VINCENZO’S TIP: Keep a small bowl of water nearby as in between making each one, you might need to dampen your hands a little to stop anything from sticking to them.
- Get a palm full of ingredients (or less, depending on the size you want to make) and roll them into a ball.
- Make as many meatballs as you can using all of your mixture and try to make them all more or less the same size as this will ensure they all cook through at the same time.
- Place each of the Italian meatballs on the tray you prepared earlier with the baking paper on it.
HOW TO COOK THE ITALIAN MEATBALLS
- Once you are ready to cook the meatballs, heat up a generous amount of EVOO in a medium-large frypan (dependent on how many you need to fit in there!)
- When the oil has started to warm, gently place each meatball down in the pan, leaving it to cook for at least 5 minutes. Then, gently turn each one and leave it to cook for another 5 minutes.
- Leave them to simmer a little longer, then add the tomato sugo you have prepared lathering each Italian meatball so it is completely infused with the flavour of the sauce!
- Again, each one will need to cook for at least 5 minutes on each side, depending on how large – or small – you make them.
HOW TO SERVE
- Once the meatballs are ready, place a dollop of sugo in the centre of a white plate and place 2-3 on top, not to mention a generous serve of the fresh sugo on top.
- Add a sprinkle of dried herbs, another of parmigiano cheese and serve with a fresh basil leaf either on top or on the side of the plate.
- Enjoy them with some warm crusty bread on the side…and make sure you have seconds!!
E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate…Enjoy!
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