So much fun having a website….now dinner is two hours later than usual!!! David has to smell the aromas for longer while I’m arranging to take photographs, tummies are grumbling louder than usual and I’m click-clicking as well as chop-chopping!!
I had a craving for a good meatball hero last Friday evening so purchased some minced beef and minced pork (half a pound of each) from butcher, Dick Dooley as well as some smoked rashers (bacon). I bought a couple ciabattas, some beautiful fresh basil, mozarella cheese, parmesan and of course was going to put to use one of my tubs of tomato and fresh basil sauce. They were to die for, so I thought I’d share them with you. Photos were taken on my phone this time, as the battery wasn’t charged for the ‘real camera’ (typical). My creativity doesn’t wait for technology, and as I mentioned earlier the stomach was already growling….so I hope they’re adequate.
Unfortunately, the weather in Ireland this year is very slow to come round to Springtime, so we’re still on comfort food over here….hence, the meatball heros. These meatballs can, of course, be served over a bed of spaghetti, but it was the hero I was craving. My meatballs don’t have breadcrumbs or eggs in them, so the meatballs themselves are coeliac friendly….just find a good coeliac friendly breadroll and or a gluten-free pasta and you’re made. My sauce is also gluten free, as are all my sauces so that’s another plus. I use grated parmesan cheese to bind the meatballs…if you’re on a non-dairy diet press ‘escape’ now!!
So, combine the minced beef and pork and add about 2 slices very finely chopped smoked rasher (don’t mince them as they add texture to the final result). Finely chop a medium sized onion, as well as a couple Tablespoons of celery (I like using the centre sticks of celery as well as some of the celery leaf as they’re more flavourful), peel and grate (microplane) 4 large cloves of garlic and finely chop 1 long red chilli which has been deseeded ( if you like really hot leave the seeds in, but a good in-between heat compromise is to seed, then heat….(keep reading). Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan (medium-low heat) and soften the onions, garlic, celery and chilli . By cooking the chilli this way it introduces a bit more heat without taking the face off you. By cooking the onions and garlic you will be adding a sweetness to the onions and a courtesy to your diner(s) by not providing unwanted repeated tastings. Incidentally, it’s also fun to make meatballs with chorizo instead of the smoked rasher….but we’ll do that another time. (Get used to it, I interrupt myself all the time….it’s a sign of passion for my subject!)
When the veg is cooled slightly add to the meat ingredients along with a heaped Tablespoon of double concentrate tomato puree, a really good few shakes of Worchestershire sauce, a cup and a half of loosely packed, finely grated parmesan cheese and about 2 Tablespoons of fresh basil, finely chopped or shredded as well as freshly ground black pepper. I find these meatballs don’t need salt, and I like salt. There’s salt in the rasher, the worchestershire sauce and the parmesan is salty, so enough already!
Shape into meatballs and place in a roasting tray. Now here’s the question we all ask ourselves…big or small?! My own opinion is if I’m making the hero sandwich, I like them small and many, if it’s meatballs for spaghetti and meatballs I like them large and few. It’s completely up to you, but you will obviously have to amend the cooking times to make sure they are cooked through to the centre.
Put into a 180 C oven for approximately 25-30 minutes, prepare a green salad or have a glass of wine! When they’re finished cooking open a 454 gram tub of ‘Danette’s Magic’ Tomato and Fresh Basil sauce (or heat the same amount of another sub-standard sauce!!) place it in a medium-sized saucepan and heat gently. Lift the cooked meatballs with a slotted spoon (there will be a lot of fat in the juices), add to the tomato sauce and baste for a further 15 minutes.
Slice some crusty rolls almost all the way through, but not quite. If they’re very thick rolls remove some of the bread on the bottom portion of the roll and spread both sides with a good pesto (you guessed it, I make that too!)Wrap the rolls in foil and warm in the oven. At the same time, transfer the meatballs and the sauce into an ovenproof dish and top with grated mozarella cheese. Return the meatballs to the oven until the cheese is melted. Fill the warmed rolls with several meatballs (we had 6 small meatballs each because by the time I finished photographing all this food we were RAVENOUS! and top with some more grated parmesan, some finely shredded basil and serve with a green salad.
Magic! Sorry about the glare on some of the photos…..I think it’s acutally the magic from the sauce exuding into the atmosphere! Can I also say that half a pound of mince and half a pound of pork in this recipe yielded 25 meatballs, so we get to do this again tomorrow night, but it will be a lot quicker and even tastier, because this is the type of left-over dish that gets better with a day or two in the fridge.