Classic meatballs are delicious and easy to make, providing the perfect accompaniment to pasta, potatoes and grains.
Meatball recipes can be found in many different cuisines, ranging from rich and herby Italian versions to sweet and comforting Swedish varieties.
A basic meatball recipe combines fresh minced meat (beef, pork, lamb or chicken are ideal), breadcrumbs, finely chopped onion, beaten egg, herbs and seasoning. The meatballs are usually fried gently in a pan with oil, covered with a rich sauce and then served with an accompaniment, such as pasta.
Classic meatballs in tomato and herb sauce
Serves 4 (6 meatballs per person)
400g (13oz) minced beef
50g (2oz) breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 medium white onion, very finely chopped
400g (13oz) chopped tomatoes with herbs
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
olive oil, for cooking
In a large bowl combine the minced beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, egg, salt and pepper to form your meatball base. Remember to chop your onion finely to make sure your meatballs stay intact during cooking and serving. Also, make sure your breadcrumbs are not too soft: day-old crusty bread or ready-made breadcrumbs are ideal. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and mash the mix together with your clean hands. Before you move on to shaping your meatballs, fry a small amount of the mixture to check your seasoning, and adjust if needed.
Lay out a clean chopping board or plate. Using a little water to stop the mixture sticking, roll the meat between your clean hands to form 24 meatballs, the size of large marbles. The smaller the meatball, the faster they will cook. If you have time, chill the meatballs for 15-30 minutes before cooking; this will help them keep their shape and make them easier to handle.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Be sure to get your cooking oil nice and hot before adding your meatballs to the pan; the heat helps to quickly seal the meat. Fry for a couple of minutes at a time, turning evenly with tongs to ensure they are cooked throughout. Once your meatballs are browned, turn the heat down so they cook gently.
To finish, add a can of chopped tomatoes with herbs and leave the meat balls to simmer for 15-20 minutes without stirring, until the meatballs are no longer pink in the centre. A jar of tomato pasta sauce is a great alternative if you don’t have any canned tomatoes. To ensure your meatballs are cooked, select one from the pan and cut in half to test. Serve with with spaghetti and enjoy!